Maximum temperature dips below 20°C as Delhi shivers on grey day | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Maximum temperature dips below 20°C as Delhi shivers on grey day

Dec 30, 2023 01:40 AM IST

At 19.8°C, the maximum on Friday was perceptibly colder than the 21°C recorded the previous day.

New Delhi Delhi’s maximum temperature dropped below 20°C on Friday as fog kept the sun away for all but a brief window of a couple of hours in the afternoon, leaving people shivering in what was the coldest daytime temperature recorded this winter.

Kartavya Path is barely visible on a cold and foggy winter evening, in New Delhi.(ANI)
Kartavya Path is barely visible on a cold and foggy winter evening, in New Delhi.(ANI)

Read here: 11 Delhi-bound trains delayed as dense fog engulfs north India; situation to persist till Jan 2

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At 19.8°C, the maximum on Friday was perceptibly colder than the 21°C recorded the previous day, even though the night-time temperature, or minimum, settled four notches above normal for this time of the year at 10.7°C.

While both these numbers were yet to meet thresholds for a coldwave or “cold day” temperatures, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted the daytime chill to persist since a layer of fog in the higher altitudes that has been blocking the sun is not predicted to lift for another couple of days.

Low daytime temperatures can exacerbate people’s exposure to the cold and generally make the winter feel more intense since this is when people are usually outside of the comfort of their homes.

IMD said dense fog was recorded for three hours in the early hours, with visibility dropping to a low of 150 metres between 6 am and 9 am at Palam. This was the fifth consecutive dense fog day in Delhi.

The lowest visibility at Safdarjung – representative of Delhi’s weather – was recorded at 200m and rose to a maximum visibility of 800m during the day

The IMD classifies fog as “shallow” when visibility is between 500 and 1,000m; “moderate” when it is between 200 and 500m; “dense” when it is between 50 and 200m; and “very dense” when it is lower than 50 metres.

“Fog persisted through the day at Safdarjung and we also had fog at the upper-level of the atmosphere, with a layer of fog stretching from Punjab, all the way to the Indo-Gangetic Plains. This did not allow sunlight to penetrate through and subsequently kept the maximum temperature below normal in most places,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, scientist at IMD.

IMD has a yellow alert for the next two days, forecasting moderate to dense fog over the weekend. It also said isolated parts of Delhi-NCR may also record “cold day” conditions.

A cold day is when the maximum temperature is 4.5°C or more below normal, and the minimum is below 10°C. While the maximum criteria was met at some stations, the minimum was not. But the shrinking difference between maximum and minimum signals the start of peak winter condition, which takes place towards the end of December and lasts till mid January.

“With such a layer of fog persisting over a city, night-time temperature rises, as heat gets trapped within the atmosphere. The same layer of fog, both at the surface level and in the upper-level of the atmosphere, makes days cold, as sunlight does not penetrate through, narrowing the gap between maximum and minimum,” Srivastava explained, stating the cold is felt more in such a scenario.

Doctors have in the past warned people, especially those with illnesses and the elderly, to take precautions since exposure to cold can thin blood vessels, stressing the cardiovascular system and raising chances of heart attacks and strokes.

In NCR, the lowest maximum temperature was recorded in Mungeshpur (14.5°C), Faridabad (14.6°C) and Gurugram (15.4°C).

In its forecast bulletin for the next five days, the IMD said, “cold day conditions very likely in some to many parts of Punjab, Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi on December 30 and 31 and in isolated pockets of Uttar Pradesh”.

Despite the low visibility, no flight diversions or cancellations were reported at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport, however, around 25 flights were delayed. The airport classifies a flight as ‘delayed’ when it is late by more than 15 minutes.

A Northern Railways spokesperson said at least 11 trains were delayed by more than one hour on Friday morning. This included the Mumbai CSMT-Amritsar Express, which was delayed by more than five hours.

Businesses that serve outdoors said they had begun using space heaters in the day. “Days have been warm so far, and in fact, we have been seeing ample sunlight. On Friday, there was haziness and the sun did not come out, making outdoor heaters necessary even during the day,” said Kapil Saxena, who works at an outdoor cafe in Janakpuri.

IMD’s forecast shows the maximum is likely to oscillate between 18 and 19 degrees on Saturday and Sunday. Nights will remain warmer than usual, with the minimum hovering between 9-10 degrees Celsius.

Meanwhile, Delhi’s air continued to remain “very poor” on Thursday, deteriorating marginally in the past 24 hours. The average air quality index (AQI) was 382 (very poor) on Friday as per Central Pollution Control Board’s national bulletin released at 4pm each day. It was 358 (very poor) at 4pm on Thursday. Forecasts show Delhi’s air quality is likely to remain ‘very poor’ till January 1 now.

Read here: Low visibility as fog envelopes Kashmir

“Delhi’s air quality is likely to remain in the ‘very poor’ category from December 30 till January 1. The outlook for the subsequent six days shows the air quality is likely to remain in ‘very poor’ category,” said the Early Warning System (EWS) for Delhi, a forecasting model under the ministry of earth sciences, adding that conditions were not favourable for dispersion of pollutants and any firecrackers burst on December 31, may worsen air quality further.

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