Indians suffer as severe cold weather grips country

Freezing conditions expected to continue in the northern parts of the country over the next two days

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Hundreds of millions in India are shivering after a biting cold wave gripped the northern and western parts of the country, including New Delhi, and temperatures in several cities plummeted below 10ºC.

New Delhi residents woke up to a thick blanket of fog on Tuesday as visibility dropped to 50m in some parts of the capital and temperatures fell to 7ºC, the Indian Meteorological Department said.

It expects the cold wave to linger over the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, as well as western Rajasthan over the next two days.

“Due to prevailing light wind and high moisture in lower tropospheric levels, dense to very dense fog is very likely to continue over some parts of north India,” the department said.

Meteorologists have attributed the dip in day temperatures to frigid north-westerly winds barrelling through the plains, and reduced sunshine due to foggy weather.

“There was no active western disturbance approaching [the] western Himalayas, which would have caused heavy snowfall. The frequency of western disturbance was sufficient but not active in November,” Mahesh Palawat of private weather forecaster Skymet Weather told The National.

“However, now as snowfall has occurred in the Himalayas and with northerly winds flowing across north-west India, [this has led] to a significant dip in temperature.”

Villagers sit around a fire on a foggy winter day on the outskirts of Amritsar on Monday. AFP

A severe cold wave is defined by the meteorological department as occurring when the minimum temperature drops to 4ºC.

In Churu, Rajasthan, which can hit 50ºC in summer, temperatures dropped to zero.

Dense fog has also engulfed parts of West Bengal state in eastern India, where at least one person was killed and more than a dozen passengers injured after a bus collided with a lorry in the early hours of Tuesday.

In northern Uttar Pradesh, people lit bonfires as temperatures dipped to 6ºC.

The Kashmir valley is reeling under harsh winter conditions, with night temperatures dropping to minus 6ºC in recent days.

Most of the water bodies in the region were frozen along with the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.

The Himalayan ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir's recorded a low of minus 5ºC.

Tourists are also flocking in large numbers to the cold regions of Manali and Shimla and other winter resorts in Himachal Pradesh.

Updated: December 27, 2022, 7:22 AM