New Delhi: A piercing cold wave swept across the hilly states in north India even as a blanket of fog covered the plains, hampering the movement of air, rail and road traffic on Sunday.
The mercury continued its downward spiral in Jammu and Kashmir. Leh in the Ladakh region braved the coldest night so far this year at minus 15.2 degrees Celsius.
Srinagar city, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a minimum of minus 3.6 degrees Celsius. The mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of Chillai-Kalan, a 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably. It ends on January 31 next year, but the cold wave continues even after that in the valley.
In Delhi, more than 150 flights were delayed, around 50 diverted and 20 canceled as the season’s “worst” fog reduced visibility to a meager 50 metres at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Hundreds of flyers were left stranded as no flights could take off between 7.30 am and 11.05 am, according to an airport official. The minimum required visibility to operate flights from the IGI Airport is 125 metres.
According to a Northern Railway spokesperson, 15 trains were canceled, 57 delayed and 18 rescheduled at 6:30 am due to poor visibility.
The sun shone bright in the afternoon pushing the mercury to 23.9 degrees Celsius. The city recorded a minimum of 6.4 degrees Celsius.
Strong icy winds swept Shimla and surrounding areas and the sky remained heavily overcast, raising hopes of a snowy start to the New Year.
Thousands of tourists who have thronged the “queen of hills” to ring in New Year were ecstatic with the weatherman predicting snow at isolated places in the higher reaches.
High altitude tribal areas and mountain passes groaned under arctic conditions with the mercury staying 14 to 20 degree below the freezing point.
The temperature dropped to minus 9.6 degrees Celsius in Keylong. Solan had a low of 2.7 degrees Celsius, Shimla 4.2, Palampur 4.5, Una 5.6, Dharamsala 6.2 and Nahan 6.9.
The weather in Uttar Pradesh remained mainly dry, while dense to very dense fog occurred at many places. Day temperatures fell appreciably in Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Jhansi and Agra. At 6.4 degrees Celsius, Lakhimpur Kheri was the coldest place in the state.
The minimum temperature dropped by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius at most places in Rajasthan due to northwesterly winds. Fatehpur Shekhawati shivered at 0.5 degrees Celsius. Mount Abu had a low of 3 degrees Celsius. Cold wave conditions prevailed at many places in Punjab and Haryana. Adampur (2.3 degrees) and Hisar (3.4) were the coldest places in Punjab and Haryana respectively.
Bathinda in Punjab quivered at 3.9 degrees Celsius. Faridkot braved the chill at 4.8 degrees Celsius. Chandigarh had a low of 7.8 degrees Celsius.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper