Cold wave in north India: Delhi, northern states shiver as day temperatures dip
Cold wave intensified its grip on much of north India on Monday, bringing the capital one of its coldest days in years as a blanket of fog settled over the Ingo-Gangetic Plain, blocking out the sun and keeping daytime temperatures close to numbingly cold levels.
The cold wave intensified its grip on much of north India on Monday, bringing the capital one of its coldest days in years as a blanket of fog settled over the Ingo-Gangetic Plain, blocking out the sun and keeping daytime temperatures close to numbingly cold levels.
The maximum temperature in Delhi was recorded at 15.6°C, six notches lower than what is normal for this time of the year. These conditions are likely to persist for the next 24 to 48 hours, officials of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned, predicting possible disruptions to transport services — especially flights and trains — and greater risk to people in vulnerable circumstances, such as those without shelter.
"The winds were west-northwesterly but now they are north-northwesterly, blowing at about 10kmph over Delhi. A layer of upper haze when morning fog hasn’t lifted completely and is also obscuring sunshine during the day giving a feel of biting cold. These conditions will last for a day before temperatures rise gradually," said Mahesh Palawat, vice president, climate and meteorology, Skymet Weather.
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Very low daytime temperatures, such as those recorded over the last 48 hours, typically carry greater risk of cold exposure since this is when most people are outdoors. The ‘feels like’ temperature was lower than the actual temperatures over most parts of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi mainly because of the frosty winds.
The cold wave has stretched from Rajasthan and Punjab in the northwest, to Haryana, Delhi, and further southeast into Uttar Pradesh. “Cold day conditions are expected mainly over Punjab and Haryana for another 48 hours but temperatures are expected to rise thereafter briefly. Minimum temperatures are between 3 and 7°C now over most of NW India which is expected to rise to 7-10°C around December end,” said M Mohapatra, director general, IMD.
In Rajasthan, temperatures hit sub-zero levels at some stations at night, officials said. Sikar district Met department Radheyshyam Sharma said Fatehpur recorded a low -1.5°C, seven notches below normal. Churu and Karauli recorded the next lowest night temperature at 0 and 0.2°C, respectively.
These minimum temperatures meant that the weather conditions were classified as cold wave to severe cold wave at few places over west Rajasthan, east Rajasthan and Haryana. For Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, the temperatures were in the cold wave category.
Some cities where the daytime temperatures were significantly lower than usual were Bareilly (11.9°C) and Aligarh (11.0°C), with both recording a negative deviation of over 10°C.
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Most parts of Jammu and Kashmir recorded sub-zero minimum temperatures on Monday — Srinagar at -3.5°C; Pahalgam at -5.7°C; Gulmarg at -5°C; Leh at -13.4°C; Kargil at -10.3°C. The intense cold conditions led to freezing of water supply lines in many areas of Kashmir, as well as the freezing of the interiors of the Dal Lake, officials said.
In the plains, IMD declares a cold wave if the minimum temperature dips to 4°C. A cold wave is also declared when the minimum is 10°C or lower, and is 4.5 notches below normal. A severe cold wave is when the minimum temperature dips to 2°C or the departure from normal is more than 6.4°C.
Cold days as well as nights mean people are exposed to low temperatures for a prolonged time, which experts said “increases not only the changes of respiratory illnesses and infections but also increases chances of heart attacks and strokes,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant (internal medicine) at Indraprastha Apollo.
Senior citizens and malnourished people are the most vulnerable in such period. The human body has its own mechanism to keep warm. On cold days, the blood vessels in the body constricts to trap heat, which then also restricts blood flow and increases the chances of a heart attack or stroke. Our bodies work well in an optimal temperature and when that falls below a certain level and we are exposed to it for days, our regular bodily functions are impacted,” Chatterjee added.
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The health impact on people will include “wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath” for people with asthma and bronchitis.
IMD also warned that “dense to very dense fog” will likely continue over some parts of Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and west Rajasthan during next 48 hours” and over “east Rajasthan and west Uttar Pradesh during next 24 hours”. Its intensity and spread will likely reduce thereafter, it added.
As a result of the fog, driving conditions will be difficult, leading to “slower journey times on highways” and a higher risk of traffic collisions, the warning added. There could also be “likely train delays, diversions and cancellations. Airport operations likely to be affected with likely flight delays and cancellations,” IMD added.