Cold wave sweeps north India, Leh shivers at -16 deg C

New Delhi: Mercury dipped further in most parts of north India today with Leh region in Jammu and Kashmir recording the season's lowest at minus 16.2 degrees Celsius.

Delhiites woke up to a chilly Christmas morning with the minimum temperature settling at 5.5 degrees Celsius, two notches below normal for this time of the season. A few areas in the city witnessed shallow fog with the visibility being recorded at 1,000 metres. "The minimum temperature recorded at 8:30 am was 5.5 degrees Celsius. The humidity was 83 per cent," a MeT department official said.

In Jammu and Kahsmir, cold wave tightened its grip in the state as the minimum temperature at most places continued its downward spiral. The summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir recorded a low of minus 5.2 degrees Celsius, a drop of over a degree from the previous night's minus 4.0 degrees Celsius, according to a spokesman of the MeT Department. The bone-chilling cold led to freezing of water taps and fringes of many water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here.

The night temperature in Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, went down by over three notches from the previous night's minus 12.9 degrees Celsius to settle at minus 16.2 degrees Celsius. Leh was the coldest recorded place in the state.

The nearby Kargil town also shivered at a record low of minus 15.0 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said, adding the town had recorded a low of minus 14.5 degrees Celsius the previous night.

In Rajasthan, mercury plummeted in parts of Rajasthan where Churu remained the coldest place with a minimum temperature of 0.4 degree Celsius, near freezing point.

The night temperatures dipped by 2-4 notches in the state, a Met department official said. Intense cold wave swept Punjab and Haryana with Amritsar recording the lowest temperature of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius in the region as mercury dropped by several notches below normal level in both states.

Reeling under severe cold conditions, Amritsar recorded mercury at minus 0.3 degrees Celsius, four notches below normal, an MeT report said. As cold wave tightened its grip, Narnaul in Haryana recorded the second lowest minimum at one degree, down by five notches below normal.

The Union Territory of Chandigarh shivered at 3.4 degrees Celsius, down by three degrees below normal while Ambala and Hisar recorded a low of 5.2 degrees Celsius and 3.2 degrees Celsius, dropping by up to four notches below normal.

In Himachal, intense cold wave conditions continued to reel in the hills and valleys of Himachal Pradesh but tourists were disappointed as 'White Christmas' eluded Shimla.

People braved freezing cold conditions to reach churches to attend the mid-night mass. Thick fog engulfed the towns along the river banks in mid and lower hills while thick ground frost made driving risky in mid and higher hills in the morning, while people shivered under cold wave conditions.

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