Chillier than usual cold spell makes north India shiver
Northern India is under the grip of a severe cold spell, and cold or severe cold day conditions are likely to continue for the next five days in several areas in the plains, according to an India Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin released on Wednesday.
Severe cold accompanied by fog is expected in parts of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and northern Rajasthan on Thursday, IMD predicted.
“Due to the persistence of cold northwesterly winds in lower levels over north-west India and other meteorological conditions, cold to severe cold day conditions are very likely in many pockets in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, and in some pockets over north Rajasthan. Cold day conditions at some pockets are also very likely over Madhya Pradesh and Bihar during the next five days,” the bulletin said.
The national capital, right in the thick of this cold spell (the longest in December in 22 years), recorded a “severe” cold day again on Wednesday, with the maximum temperature dropping to 12.7º Celsius, nine degrees below normal. The minimum temperature was 6ºC, two degrees below normal.
A severe cold day is defined as one on which the maximum temperature is at least 6.4 degrees below normal and the minimum temperature is under 10ºC.
“There is some sunlight in the day but it’s not intense... The low cloud cover is still shrouding the entire region, particularly parts of Punjab and Haryana,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, head, regional weather forecasting centre. The intense cold spell will continue till at least till December 27, he added.
According to RK Jenamani, a senior scientist at the National Weather Forecasting Centre, the lowest day temperature for Delhi was recorded on December 28, 1973, at 11.2º Celsius. This year, till now, the lowest day temperature was 12.2º Celsius on December 17. In Delhi, airport officials said no diversions or cancellations were reported because of weather conditions. “Visibility remained above 300 and flight operations continued as normal,” the official said. Around 25-30 flights were delayed because of bad weather at destination airports, the official added. In Haryana, including in neighbouring Gurugram, authorities ordered that all government and private schools will be shut on Thursday due to intense cold.
The minimum temperature across Kashmir and Ladakh remained several degrees below the freezing point. In Srinagar, the extreme cold led to freezing of water supply lines at several places. Kashmir is currently under the grip of “Chillai-Kalan”— the 40-day harshest period of the winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum temperature drops considerably. The period began on December 21 and will end on January 31.
The weather office predicted fresh snowfall and rains in some parts of Himachal Pradesh on the last day of the year.
Dense fog is likely in isolated pockets over Bihar, north Madhya Pradesh, Assam and Meghalaya and lower reaches of the Western Himalayan region during the same period, according to IMD.
Experts say this season a cold spell and a cold wave could take place simultaneously. Meteorologists have attributed the unusually cold conditions to a western disturbance (WD), which brought heavy snowfall in the Himalayan region — Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh — and rainfall across the northern plains, including in Delhi, on December 12 and 13. That western disturbance left a lot of moisture in the atmosphere, according to scientists. And now, cold northwesterly winds and high relative humidity is causing dense fog in the morning hours.
“After sunrise, when the surface warms a little, the fog layer lifts up but not enough. It continues to hang close to the surface in the form of a low cloud cover. This is the main reason sun is not able to warm the surface and day temperature is low,” explained Srivastava.