NEW DELHI: Where were you when Delhi froze for two weeks in December 2019? This could well be the subject of casual talk in the years to come because the current intense “cold day” spell, now on for 11 bone-chilling days, is set to make this December the second coldest the capital has seen in more than 100 years (in terms of day temperatures).
Met officials said the mean maximum temperature (MMT) — the average of each day’s maximum — so far this month is 19.5 degrees Celsius. The month is on course to end with an MMT of around 19 degrees C. If that happens, it would be the second lowest MMT recorded in December since 1901, after 17.3 degrees C recorded in 1997.
The bad news is, the icy cold day conditions are likely to continue for at least two-three days. There’s further bad news for the brave Delhiites planning an outdoor New Year party. “Light rain is possible on New Year eve as a western disturbance will hit the region.
It is likely to bring wet weather—rain and hail in the plains, and snow in the hills — till January 3,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, head of IMD’s national weather forecasting centre.
Meanwhile, night temperatures too are plummeting across north India. The mercury fell below zero to -3 degrees C in Fatehpur, Rajasthan, and to 0 degrees in Sikar.
Orange alert in Delhi, neighbouring areas
The Met department on Thursday issued an orange alert for cold day/severe cold day conditions and dense night and morning fog in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and west UP till December 29.
On the 11th day of the cold spell, the capital (Safdarjung) recorded a maximum temperature of 13.4 degrees Celsius, seven notches below normal, on Thursday. Palam was even colder at 11.8 degrees and Delhi University recorded 12.6.
This month is on course to register a mean maximum temperature of below 20 degrees C, which has happened on only three Decembers in the past 118 years since 1901, met officials said. “The city has already recorded the longest and the most extreme cold day spell in December since 1997, which had witnessed 17 cold days in a row,” said a met official. A severe cold day is registered when the maximum temperature is at least 6.4 degrees Celsius below normal. A cold day warning is issued when the day temperature is at least 4.4°C below normal.
Delhiites also woke up to thick fog looming over the city with visibility of about 700 meters at 8.30am. Flight operations at IGI were partially affected as 20 flights were delayed on Thursday.
The severe cold day conditions are likely to abate only around December 30, due to an approaching western disturbance and easterly winds. “This could bring light rain over Delhi-NCR on December 31 night and on January 1,” a Met official said.
In terms of pollution levels, the air quality index in Delhi was in the ‘very poor’ category at 349 on Thursday, almost similar to Wednesday’s 350, according to the Central Pollution Control Board data. The air quality may deteriorate to ‘severe’ on Saturday.