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At 1.4°C, Delhi is punishingly cold; fog delays 500 flights

NEW DELHI: Saturday saw Delhi’s coldest December night in six years, and Met officials say Sunday might break an older record. With the mercury already down to 2.4°C at the Safdarjung observatory, just a whisker separates it from the 2.3-degree mark set on December 11, 1996.

While Safdarjung is Delhi’s official record-keeper, lower temperatures were recorded at three other centres on Saturday night. Mungeshpur in northwest Delhi was the coldest at 1.4 degrees and even Lodhi Road recorded 1.7 degrees.

It’s still a long way from Delhi’s all-time December low of 0 degrees, recorded in 1930, but a record spell of cold and severely cold days has left the city frozen stiff.

Severe cold or cold day conditions have prevailed over Delhi and NCR since December 14, beating the 13-day run recorded in 1997,” a Met official said, adding that Saturday also witnessed a “cold wave” as the minimum temperature fell below 4°C, and Sunday might be colder.

Not just nights, Delhi’s days have also been punishingly cold for the past fortnight. On Saturday, Safdarjung recorded a maximum of 13.3 degrees, 7 below normal.

The Met office considers it a “severe cold” day when the minimum temperature falls below 10°C and the maximum is at least 6.4 degrees below normal. It’s a “cold day” if the day temperature is at least 4.4 degrees below normal.

A cold wave warning is issued when the minimum is at least 4.4 degrees below normal or breaches the 4-degree mark. Saturday also saw “very dense” fog at Palam that reduced visibility to zero in the morning, and Safdarjung had “dense fog” with visibility down to 100 metres. Two flights were cancelled, six were diverted and 400-500 were delayed.

An airport official said pilots in the morning hours operated under CAT-IIIB conditions, meaning the runway visual range was 50-175 metres. This December is on course to be the NCR’s second-coldest since 1901. The mean maximum temperature (MMT) till December 28 has been 19.2°Celsius.

The lowest MMT of 17.3 degrees was recorded in 1997. On Thursday, the Met had issued an orange alert — cold day or severe cold day conditions, and dense night and morning fog — for Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and West UP till December 29.

It has forecast a mainly clear sky on Sunday, with dense to very dense fog in the morning. Severe cold day and cold wave to severe cold wave conditions are expected at most places while the maximum and minimum temperatures will be around 14 and 2°C, respectively.

Similar conditions are expected on Monday. The weather is expected to change from Tuesday evening under the influence of an approaching western disturbance and easterly winds. Light rain is expected from late night on December 31 to January 2, and hailstorms are also expected on January 1 and 2.

Source: Economic Times