Mercury hits high of 12.5°C on ‘severe cold day’ in Capital | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Mercury hits high of 12.5°C on ‘severe cold day’ in Capital

By, New Delhi
Jan 05, 2024 05:28 AM IST

The agency has now forecast cold to severe cold day conditions for Friday and has issued an orange alert, which advises people to take precautions from exposure to the weather

The peak temperature on Thursday was just 12.5°C, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, confirming that the bitterly cold, grey conditions made for a “severe cold day” in the Capital – the first in two years.

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Such conditions could last another couple of days, weathers experts said, attributing the phenomenon to the thickening of the fog that has blanketed much of the Indo-Gangetic plains for nearly a week now, and the icy cold winds from the Himalayas up north.

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Thursday’s maximum temperature was seven notches below the average at this time of the year and with a minimum of 7.7°C, the day was classified not just as the first “cold day” of the season, but a “severe cold day” – when the minimum is below 10°C and the maximum is over 6.5 degrees below normal.

The last time Delhi experienced a colder day was on January 25, 2022 when the maximum was 12.1°C. The IMD appears to have not seen the conditions coming, having predicted a day before that the maximum would be 17°C with “mainly clear skies” and “cold day conditions in isolated places”.

The agency has now forecast cold to severe cold day conditions for Friday and has issued an orange alert, which advises people to take precautions from exposure to the weather.

“We have seen dense upper-level fog for the past few days now, but over the last 24 hours, this fog has dipped a bit in terms of height and has come closer to the surface. The layer also persisted throughout the day, not allowing any sunlight through across large parts of Delhi-NCR and northern India. At the surface, we also had ice-cold northwesterly winds blowing at around 8km/hr through the day, making for a severe cold day,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, scientist at IMD.

He said that with similar conditions expected in the next two days, the maximum is likely to hover around 13-14°C at Safdarjung, with other stations possibly recording a lower maximum, like they did on Thursday.

The Capital’s coldest day ever, came on December 30, 2019, when the maximum was just 9.4°C.

To be sure, IMD had neither predicted the 15.6°C on Wednesday, nor Thursday’s 12.5°C. Its forecast for Delhi on Tuesday stated the Capital was likely to record a maximum of around 18 degrees on Wednesday. On Wednesday, its forecast for Thursday said the maximum is likely to hover around 17°C. Even in its updated forecast, issued at 8:30am on Thursday, the maximum was forecast to hover around 15°C.

Though Safdarjung – which is representative of the city’s weather – was cold, other parts were even colder. Jafarpur in southwest Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 10.5°C, followed by 11.4°C at Palam and 11.6°C at Ayanagar. The highest maximum temperature at any weather station in Delhi was 12.6°C – recorded both at Lodhi Road and Pitampura, highlighting the severity of the cold across the Capital.

The intensity of the cold could also be deduced from the narrow difference between the night-time low and the daytime high – the two were separated by a mere 4.8°C as Safdarjung. Usually, the diurnal range – the maximum the temperature swings in a 24-hour period – in the Capital is in the 10-15°C range in late December and most of January.

IMD officials said some relief is expected only by January 8 when an approaching western disturbance raises both the maximum and minimum temperature marginally. Delhi is expected to record a drizzle on the night of January 8 or in the early hours of January 9, IMD predicted on Thursday. “The maximum could rise to 17°C by January 9 and the minimum to around 9°C,” Srivastava added.

A look at Safdarjung’s air temperature taken at three-hour gaps showed that there during the day, when usually the Sun raises temperature and leads to a high maximum between 3 to 4pm, Delhi actually became colder. At 5:30am, the temperature was 9.4°C, rising to 10.0°C at 8:30am, followed by 12°C at 11:30am. But at 2:30pm, it dipped to 11.8°C and stayed there till 5:30pm.

Mahesh Palawat, vice president at Skymet, said upper level fog remained fairly dense on Thursday, which usually happens when the wind speed is slow at the transport-level and there is ample moisture. “This did not allow the fog to weaken, like it does during the daytime. No significant change in weather is expected till Saturday,” he added.

At the surface level, the shallow fog meant the lowest visibility recorded was 500 metres. Though no flights were impacted at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport, at least 26 trains were running at a delay of over an hour, the Northern Railway said.

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