Mercury dipped below two degrees Celsius in several areas of the national capital on Saturday (December 28). It also recorded its coldest day of the season with the minimum temperature plummeting to 2.4 degrees Celsius in the morning.
In some areas around the Lodhi Road Observatory, the temperature plunged to below two degrees Celsius, recording a low of 1.7 degrees Celsius. The city was enveloped in dense fog, reducing visibility and affecting air traffic and vehicular movement in the streets.
The Safdarjung Observatory, whose reading is considered the official marking for the city, recorded 2.4 degrees Celsius in the morning. The same temperature was recorded on December 30, 2013. Before this, the coldest day in December was December 11, 1996 when minimum temperature recorded at the observatory was 2.3 degrees Celsius.
Other observatories recorded as follows: Palam 3.1 degrees Celsius, Aya Nagar 1.9 degrees Celsius. Due to very dense fog, zero visibility was reported in Palam Observatory area, which neighbours the city airport.
Due to heavy fog on Saturday morning, four flights were diverted from Delhi airport, said an airport official. The official said that the flights were operating at the airport under CAT III B conditions, which means that the runway visual range (RVR) is between 50 metre and 175 metre.
According to railway officials, 24 trains were delayed due to poor visibility, ranging from 2-5 hours. Howrah New Delhi Poorva Express delayed by five hours.
The air quality turned severe again on Saturday, as falling temperatures, high humidity and low wind speed allowed accumulation of pollutants. The overall air quality index stood at 413 at 10 am. Cold wave and severe cold day has been forecast over Delhi-NCR on Saturday, said Kuldeep Srivastava, senior meteorologist at IMD.
With chilling cold continuing to sweep Delhi-NCR, the region is expected to record its second-coldest December since 1901, the weather department had said on Thursday. “The mean maximum temperature for December was less than 20 degrees Celsius only in 1919, 1929, 1961 and 1997,” an official of the India Meteorological Department said.
In December this year, the mean maximum temperature (MMT) till Thursday was 19.85 degrees Celsius. It is expected to dip to 19.15 degrees Celsius by December 31, he said. Since December 14, most parts of the city have witnessed 15 consecutive “cold days” or a 15-day “cold spell”. The last time such a long cold spell was witnessed was in December 1997.
After 1992, Delhi has had cold spells only in four years – 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2014. “Severe cold day/cold day” conditions are predicted till December 29.
(With inputs from agencies)