City shivers as north India hit by cold wave

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New Delhi:

Chilly winds from the northwest dipped daytime temperature in the national capital to five degrees Celsius below normal, the coldest this winter, even as people in most parts of northwestern India shivered under intense cold, India Meteorological Department data showed on Saturday.

The maximum temperature in Delhi was 17.8 degrees Celsius on Saturday, nearly five degrees below normal, leading to what the weather bureau calls a cold day. Night temperature dropped to six degrees, two below normal.

Severe cold wave swept parts of Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as well, with temperatures sinking below zero in several areas. High winds at up to 15kmph for the past few days had added to the chill across India’s northwestern plains in the past three days.

In Delhi, Saturday was the first cold day of the season with cold winds exacerbating the chilly conditions, said RK Jenamani, scientist at the Met department. “During the first half of the day, wind speed over the national capital region was 10-20kmph and, as the day progressed, it increased to 40kmph,” he said.

The high velocity winds, however, dispersed fog and led to better visibility in the Capital. At the airport, visibility improved from 200-400 metres at around 8.30am to 1,800-2,000 metres in the afternoon, local officials said. There was dense to light fog in other parts of northwest India.

“In many cities north of Delhi, temperatures fell below zero degrees. Since we are receiving winds from that side, it is pushing Delhi’s temperatures down,” said Mahesh Palawat, vice-president at private forecaster Skymet Weather Services. “The forecast is that temperatures will fall in the next two days, and under the impact of a fresh western disturbance on December 21-22, there will be a marginal increase.”

Meanwhile, the weather office predicted that the chill across north India is likely to remain for the next three days and temperatures may rise slightly after that.

“Many parts of northwest India are seeing both cold day and cold wave conditions,” said M Mohapatra, director general, IMD. “Very cold conditions are likely to prevail at least till December 21.”

Churu in Rajasthan reported its season’s lowest minimum temperature of minus 1.1 degrees, followed by Amritsar in Punjab at 0.7 degrees and Ganganagar in Rajasthan at 1.1 degrees. In many places, the daytime temperature was 6 degrees below normal, IMD said.

Chandigarh recorded a maximum temperature of 15.3 degrees, six below normal and minimum temperature of 6.1, one degree below normal; Bhatinda recorded maximum temperature of 13 degree C, 9 degrees below normal and minimum temperature of 0.8 degree C, 6 degrees below normal; Hissar recorded maximum temperature of 15.1, eight degrees below normal and a minimum of four, four degrees below normal; Srinagar city recorded a minimum of only six degrees, five degrees below normal.

There might even be frost in the morning in some parts of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, north Rajasthan and north Madhya Pradesh in the next couple of days, IMD predicted.

The cold winds, however, blew away pollutants and improved air quality in the Capital. Average air quality index on Saturday was 291, an improvement from 329 the previous day, Central Pollution Control Board recordings showed. A reading around 300 leads to breathing discomfort in most people and can even result in respiratory illness. Air quality may further improve on Sunday, according to a forecast by the early warning system of the earth sciences ministry.

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