The north remained in the grip of cold conditions today with dense fog affecting rail and air traffic in the region even as Uttar Pradesh announced that school for students up to Std XII in the state would be shut till Jan. 14 in view of the chilly weather.
Rain and snowfall has been forecast in parts of northern India in the coming days with the states of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh likely to face inclement weather.
As the north shivers under the wintry spell, a pale winter sun during the day and a drop in the mercury meant there was no relief from the cold today in Delhi.
The minimum in the national capital settled at 6.6 degrees Celsius, a notch below normal, while the maximum was recorded at 16 degrees, a drop of five points from the season’s average.
According to a Northern Railway official, a thick fog cover in the morning also delayed 51 north-bound trains as visibility stood at less than 800-m.
In the higher reaches, the Valley of Kashmir did see a small rise in the mercury even though it continued to grapple with the winter chill.
Kargil, in the Ladakh region, was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir with a low of -13 degrees, which was up three degrees from the low of -16 degrees the night before.
Srinagar, the summer capital of J-K, saw the mercury settle at -2.2 degrees, up 2.6 degrees from the -4.8 degrees recorded the previous night.
In the plains, the intense cold wave threw life out of gear in Uttar Pradesh with temperatures falling at a number of places in the state where low visibility due to fog also claimed the lives of two students when their motorcycle collided with a truck in Jalaun district.
The fog also hit rail traffic and a number of trains were running several hours behind schedule.
Temperatures fell in the Varanasi, Lucknow and Bareilly divisions but changed little elsewhere. The lowest minimum in the state was recorded at 3.4 degrees in Lucknow.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the harsh weather, UP Principal Secretary (Secondary Education) Jitendra Kumar said that the state government has ordered closure of all schools and colleges under the department up to Class 12 till Jan. 14.
Yesterday, UP government had ordered closure of schools up to Std VIII.
Neither was there any let up in the biting cold wave in Punjab and Haryana with day temperatures dropping to several notches below normal across the two states.
Narnaul in Haryana shivered at 4.5 degrees while Amritsar in Punjab experienced a cold night at 4.6 degrees.
A thick blanket of fog in many places across the two states continued to affect the movement of road, rail and air traffic. Thus, two flights between Delhi and Chandigarh stood cancelled while a few were behind schedule.
The desert state of Rajasthan, too, was reeling under the biting cold with Churu and Sriganganagar seeing the mercury dip to 2.7 degrees, the lowest in the state.
Fog in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi continued to affect North-Western Railway services in Rajasthan.
About two dozen trains were running late between 20 minutes and 7:25 hours later while two other trains had to be rescheduled, a railway official said.
Although Himachal Pradesh saw minimum temperatures rising at some places in the middle hills, the high-altitude tribal areas and lower hills had no relief from the biting cold with the mercury staying 15 to 22 degrees below freezing point.
Skies remained heavily overcast and strong velocity icy winds swept the region while thick ground frost occurred at several places in the middle and high hills.
According to the weatherman, a fresh western disturbance is likely to affect J-K from tomorrow, which could result in isolated to scattered rainfall or snow.
In Delhi, the forecast is for fog in the morning tomorrow followed by partly cloudy skies during the day while rain or snowfall has been predicted at isolated places in Himachal Pradesh from January 13 onwards.