A security personnel stands guard at Raisina Hills which is covered with dense fog on a cold winter morning, in New Delhi on Tuesday | Photo: ANI
New Delhi: Large parts of north India reeled under numbing cold on Tuesday with the mercury remaining below freezing point at most places in Jammu and Kashmir, while dense fog in the early hours of the morning hit road and rail traffic movement.
Cold wave conditions abated in Delhi due to a fresh western disturbance affecting northwest India, even as a dense layer of fog lowered visibility to just 50 metres.
In Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar recorded a low of 1.8 degrees Celsius on Monday night, up from 0.9 degrees the night before, officials said.
Qazigund, the gateway to the Valley, registered a minimum temperature of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius, while Kokernag in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 3.6 degrees, they said.
The mercury settled at 2.7 degrees Celsius in Kupwara and minus 3.2 degrees Celsius in Pahalgam.
It remained below the 10-degree mark across weather stations in the Valley.
According to the meteorological office, moderate snowfall is very likely at many places in the higher reaches.
The plains in the Valley are expected to receive light to moderate snow. Light snowfall, with rains in the plains of Jammu, is likely at many places in Jammu and Kashmir, the weather office said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai Kalan', the 40-day harshest winter period when the chances of snowfall are the maximum.
'Chillai Kalan' begins on December 21 and ends on January 30. The cold wave continues even after that with a 20-day 'Chillai Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day 'Chillai Bachha' (baby cold) following it.
The mercury rose a few notches in Delhi, bringing its residents some respite from the cold.
The Safdarjung observatory, Delhi's primary weather station, recorded a minimum temperature of 6.4 degrees Celsius as against 3.8 degrees Celsius on Monday. The maximum temperature settled at 18.7 degrees Celsius.
The weather stations at Lodhi Road and Palam logged a minimum temperature of 6.4 degrees Celsius and 7.5 degrees Celsius.
"Cold wave conditions have abated from the plains in northwest India. No cold wave is predicted in the region for the next four days," the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a statement.
"However, dense to very dense fog and cold day conditions will prevail over many parts of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday and will gradually abate thereafter," it said.
Light drizzle is also expected in the capital on Thursday.
An official of the IMD said the Palam observatory near the Indira Gandhi International Airport recorded a visibility level of 50 metres.
Thirty-nine trains were delayed by an hour to five-and-a-half hours due to the foggy weather, a Northern Railways spokesperson said.
Satellite images showed a dense layer of fog persisting over vast swathes of north India, extending from Punjab to Bihar across Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Large parts of Uttar Pradesh continued to reel under severe coldwave conditions with most divisions registering a significant drop in temperatures in the past 24 hours, the Met office said.
A severe cold wave, coupled with dense fog, prevailed at many places, the Meteorological Centre in Lucknow said on Tuesday.
During the last 24 hours, the day temperature in Gorakhpur, Ayodhya, Lucknow, Bareilly, Moradabad and Meerut divisions remained much below normal while it was below normal in Kanpur, Varanasi, Jhansi, Agra and Prayagraj divisions.
Night temperatures in Lucknow, Ayodhya, Prayagraj and Kanpur divisions also remained much below normal during this period.
Etawah was the coldest place in Uttar Pradesh during this period, recording a minimum temperature of 2.8 degrees Celsius.
During this period, the minimum temperature in Hardoi was recorded at 4 degrees Celsius, Hamirpur at 5.2 degrees and Muzaffarnagar, Ayodhya and Barabanki at 5.5 degrees.
No respite is expected in the next 24 hours with dense fog and coldwave conditions continuing at many places, the Met office said.
Biting cold conditions persisted in most parts of Punjab and Haryana, with Bathinda being the coldest place in the region with a minimum temperature of 2.4 degrees Celsius.
Amritsar recorded a low of 9.2 degrees Celsius and Ludhiana 8.2 degrees Celsius, according to a meteorological department report.
The minimum temperature settled at 7.9 degrees Celsius in Patiala, 10.4 degrees Celsius in Pathankot, 6 degrees Celsius in Faridkot and 6.5 degrees Celsius in Gurdaspur
In Haryana, Bhiwani recorded a minimum temperature of 3.8 degrees Celsius.
The mercury settled at a low of 8.2 degrees Celsius in Ambala, 4.3 degrees Celsius in Hisar, 8.5 degrees Celsius in Karnal, 5 degrees Celsius in Narnaul, 7.2 degrees Celsius in Rohtak and 4 degrees Celsius in Sirsa.
Chandigarh, the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, recorded a minimum temperature of 7.8 degrees Celsius.