Cold wave sweeps across the country, kills 17 in AP

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    Days in Delhi are unusually chilly this winter. The sun comes out but to take a peep at a world covered in dense fog, and winds blow with a determination to enter into the thick folds of whatever warm wear you are wearing to protect against the cold.

    It is not unusual to rain in winter, but it has rained twice already this year, and combined with the record low temperature it is turning into one of the coldest years of the new century. In the south this is already the coldest winter in the last 100 years, and in the north temperatures have frequently been reaching freezing points.

    The mornings in the capital are regularly hidden in dense fog, when visibility goes down to near zero, leading to delayed trains and cancelled flights. “The reduced visibility caused a delay in around 118 flights, while eight flights were cancelled due to bad weather. The runway visibility dipped below 100 metres and the general visibility to less than 50 metre,” said an airport official.

    The Jammu-Srinagar Highway remains closed due to heavy snowfall. Today the government opened the road for a one way traffic to bring supplies to the city besieged by the snow. Border Roads Organization worked round the clock to open the road to traffic. “Our men and machinery worked round-the-clock clearing the accumulated snow and landslides at the various points on the highway,” BRO chief engineer Brig. T.P.S.Rawat said.

    The maximum temperature dropped to 14 degree Celsius on Tuesday, six degree below normal for this time of the year. The minimum temperature was frequently fallen to the 5 degree mark, and has been hovering in the range between 4.5-9 degrees. Today’s temperature was 5.6 degree Celsius, 4 degrees below the normal.

    In Agra as well, a thick blanket of fog greeted the commuters early morning. Children had a tough time reaching schools and some homemakers mooted extended vacations. The minimum temperature was recorded at 7.2 degrees Celsius.

    The fog also affected tourists coming from Delhi as vehicles slowed down. “This leaves tourists with less stay time in Agra and they are forced to drop one or two monuments,” tourist guide Ved Gautam told IANS.

    The maximum temperatures took a dip in most places in Haryana and Punjab with cold wave conditions resurfacing Wednesday. The highs at most places were two to nine degrees below average.

    The lowest temperature in Haryana was at Narnaul at 4.5 degrees. Chandigarh had a high of 17.1 and a low of 10 degrees. In Punjab, Amritsar recorded a low of 4.4.

    Up north, Jammu and Kashmir summer capital Srinagar reported a minimum temperature of minus 1.4 degrees. “Cold wave conditions, which had abated due to the snowfall, returned,” local meteorological office director Sonam Lotus told IANS.

     

    One-way traffic was restored on the snowed-in Srinagar-Jammu highway and 150 trucks carrying essential supplies to the Kashmir Valley were allowed to move from Jammu towards Srinagar. Normal air traffic to Kashmir was also restored as civilian flights to and from Srinagar airport operated normally.

    The cold wave conditions were unabated in Himachal Pradesh as well as the minimum temperature in the state nose-dived by one to two degrees. Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti, was the coldest in the state with a low of minus 11.2 degrees.

    Shimla, which saw 1.2 cm of snow, saw the night temperature at 0.2 degree. Water in the taps in residential areas remained frozen due to the extreme cold. Down south, the chill subsided in Andhra Pradesh where cold wave has claimed 17 lives this week.

    Temperature rose towards normal in most parts of the state due to the weakening of upper air circulation over Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, according to Met officials. The minimum temperature in most places has now risen to nine degrees. In Karnataka, people were forced to bring out woollens due to chilly nights. However, the days are sunny. Bangalore recorded a minimum of 13 degrees.

    IANS