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Mercury dips to 2.6 deg Celsius in Delhi, cold wave likely to last 3 more days

The minimum temperature of 2.6 degrees early on Saturday was three degrees below normal. The day temperature of 20 degrees Celsius was one degree below normal.

delhi Updated: Dec 30, 2018 07:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi weather,Delhi cold wave
An elderly man wrapped in warm clothes on a cold, foggy morning, in New Delhi on December 23.(PTI Photo)

Residents of the national capital spent the coldest December night in four years, with the mercury plummeting to 2.6 degrees Celsius early on Saturday, and claiming the life of a homeless woman. The temperature was just three decimal points above the coldest December night in a quarter century, and was also the lowest this winter.

The minimum temperature could drop more on Sunday, and the cold wave — a condition that causes the mercury to dip below 4 degrees Celsius — is expected to persist for at least three more days, going into the New Year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The minimum temperature of 2.6 degrees early on Saturday was three degrees below normal. The day temperature of 20 degrees Celsius was one degree below normal.

“This is not just the lowest temperature of the season so far but also the coldest December night since 2014. The mercury is expected the drop further on Sunday,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, head of the IMD’s regional weather forecasting centre.

Around 2.15 am on Saturday, a patrolling police team found the body of a homeless woman under a blanket on the pavement outside Lady Irwin College, close to the Mandi House metro station in the heart of the capital, said Madhur Verma, deputy commissioner of police (New Delhi). She was suspected to have died of cold.

A packet of food, possibly gifted by someone, was found next to her body, said the DCP. Once the body was shifted to a hospital, a hungry homeless man consumed the food. “There was some rajma mixed with groundnuts in the plastic container. I was very hungry, so I ate it,” said Sandeep Kumar, the homeless man who claimed to have spoken to the woman a few hours before she was found dead.

The minimum temperature didn’t drop below 5 degrees in December of 2015, 2016 and 2017 after plummeting to 2.6 degrees on December 28, 2014. The mercury touched 2.4 degrees Celsius on December 30, 2013, making it the coldest December night of the decade. The coldest December night recorded in the past 25 years was on December 11, 1996 when it fell to 2.3 degrees Celsius.

The lowest temperature Delhi has ever recorded in the last month of the year was on December 26, 1945 when the night temperature dropped to 1.1 degrees Celsius.

“The cold wave is likely to last for three more days, after which the mercury could shoot up by two to three degrees,” an IMD official .

Meteorologists from IMD attributed the steady decline in temperature over the past fortnight to northwesterly winds that are blowing in from the mountainous regions of north India. A clear sky is making matters worse.

“This year December has been unusually cold, both in terms of daily minimum temperature and the continuity of cold spell. Such a long cold spell hasn’t been recorded in recent times,” said BP Yadav, deputy director general of IMD.

Air quality in the city continued to hover in the ‘very poor’ zone. The day’s average Air Quality Index stood at 385 on Saturday after hitting 392 the previous day. Several areas such as Vivek Vihar, Patparganj, Punjabi Bagh, Delhi University, Mundka, the Income Tax Office neighbourhood and Sonia Vihar were still reeling under ‘severe’ pollution levels.

On a scale of 0 – 500, while an AQI value between 301 and 400 is considered to be very poor, a value between 401 and 500 is tagged as severe. Delhi has already experienced six days of severe pollution this winter.

First Published: Dec 29, 2018 23:40 IST