Behind Delhi’s coldest December day in 119 years, a rare weather phenomenon
The intense cold in Delhi broke the record of past 119 years on Monday, when the maximum temperature plunged to 9.4 degrees Celsius. Kuldeep Srivastava, head of the regional weather forecasting centre of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), said the day temperature was almost half of what is considered normal for this day of the year.
Delhi is known for its harsh winter, but this year, the situation is alarming. Not only did the winter start early, the cold wave which has swept Delhi and much of north India has made Delhi colder than hilly areas.
So what has led to this unusual weather and bone-chilling cold? Skymet, an independent weather forecaster, said one of the reasons for this is the fact that Delhi has been reeling under both cold day and cold wave condition. Though the phenomenon is extremely rare, the residents of Delhi are experiencing it the hard way.
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Skymet further said that the wind direction will change from north-westerlies to easterlies, which will give some relief to the people of Delhi. “But the speed of winds is expected to increase, which in turn would add up to the chill factor. Thus, complete relief is not in sight anytime soon,” said Skymet.
It said that the weather models indicate chances of rain coupled with hailstorms on January 1 and 2 in the wake of a fresh western disturbance over the Himalayas.
The IMD said on Monday, Aya Nagar weather station recorded the day temperature of 7.8 degrees Celsius, followed by Ridge (8.4), Palam (9), Lodi (9.2).
“In 1976, there was a cold spell for six days. But after that the phenomenon has become more common in the late 90s. If fog or low cloud hours increase, obviously less solar energy is received and hence days are cold,” said RK Jenamani, senior scientist at National Weather Forecasting Centre.
Jenamani published a study in the Current Science journal in 2007 which said that there has been a fall in average maximum temperature by 2–3 degree C over 2 stations in the peak winter of January since 1989.
The national capital has been witnessing its most unforgiving winter season in the past 22 years, as the minimum temperature has remained around 3 degrees Celsius for a few days. It has been experiencing “severe cold days” since December 14, according to IMD.
On Saturday, the Safdarjung Observatory, whose reading is considered the official marking for Delhi, recorded the minimum temperature at 2.4 degrees Celsius, the season’s lowest. The next day, the average minimum temperature was 3.4 degrees Celsius, four notches below the normal.
On Monday, a thick blanket of fog engulfed Delhi and the minimum temperature settled at 2.6 degrees Celsius at Safdarjung observatory.
The visibility recorded by Safdarjung and Palam observatories stood at zero metres at 8.30 am on Monday.