New Delhi: Intense cold wave conditions on Saturday gripped north India, including Kashmir where snowfall in the upper reaches of the valley marked the beginning of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day period of harshest winter.
In the national capital, foggy conditions and a cloud cover prevented the sunlight from heating the ground. The cold air trapped pollutants, officials said. At 4 pm, the overall air quality index of the city stood at 418, which falls in the severe category.
The city recorded a low of 9.5 degrees Celsius and a high of 18 degrees Celsius, which was three notches below the normal. Several trains were reported running late due to fog.
The snowfall in Kashmir began early on Friday and continued through the night. Chillai-Kalan, which began on Saturday, is the period when the chances of snowfall in Kashmir are the highest and the maximum temperature drops considerably.
The ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir received 5 cm of snowfall and the mercury settled at a low of minus 9.6 degrees Celsius on Friday night.
Pahalgam, which serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra in south Kashmir, received 21 cm of snowfall and recorded a minimum temperature of minus 3 degrees Celsius.
The weather in most plains, including Srinagar, remained largely dry during the night after fresh snowfall earlier in the day on Friday. Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.4 degree Celsius on Friday night.
Leh district of Ladakh recorded a low of minus 9.5 degrees Celsius, while Drass registered a low of minus 6 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
The early morning sun appeared in Jammu and other parts of the region after clouds shrouded it out for the past five days, providing much-needed relief to the people from the bone-chilling cold.
The highway town of Banihal, which received 1.5 cm of fresh snow, was the coldest place in Jammu region with a low of minus 0.5 degrees Celsius. He said Jammu city recorded a minimum of 6.8 degrees Celsius – a dip of 1.4 degrees below the previous day.
Biting cold persisted in most parts of Punjab and Haryana with Bathinda being the coldest at 5.6 degrees Celsius. A thick blanket of fog enveloped several parts of both the states, including Amritsar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Bathinda, Hisar, Karnal and Sirsa.
The minimum temperature in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala was recorded at 6.6, 7 and 8.6 degrees Celsius, up to three notches above normal, respectively.
In Haryana, Ambala, Hisar and Karnal braved cold wave conditions at 8.3, 8 and 9.6 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature in Narnaul, Rohtak and Sirsa settled at 7.8, 9.2 and 6.9 degrees Celsius.
Chandigarh recorded a low of 8.6 degree Celsius, up by two degrees above the season’s average.
Parts of the desert state of Rajasthan witnessed a marginal increase in the minimum temperature. Ganganagar was the coldest place in the state recording a low of 6.1 degrees Celsius, it said.