On Monday, Delhi recorded its coldest day ever, as a thick and dense fog had covered the National Capital Region, having a hold at life by disrupting flights and trains, causing a fatal road accident, aggravating air pollution, and increasing the rush of patients at government hospitals.
Delhi and NCR have been witnessing an intense cold wave over the past week, a trend that has contradicted the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) pre-season prediction of a warmer-than-usual winter.
On Monday, the national forecaster said the maximum temperature was 9.4° Celsius at the Safdarjung Observatory, 11° Celsius below the season’s normal, and the lowest day temperature since 1901, the year of the oldest weather records of IMD. The minimum temperature at the observatory, which is the official marker for the city, was 2.6° Celsius.
“Considering all the months, it has surpassed the previous lowest maximum temperature of 9.8° Celsius recorded on January 2, 2013,” RK Jenamani, senior scientist at the National Weather Forecasting Centre, said in a statement on Monday evening. He said this was the “lowest temperature for all winter seasons so far since 1901”.
Until Monday, the lowest maximum temperature in the city this season was 12.2°C last Tuesday. The minimum temperature was 2.4°C on Saturday. All these readings are from the Safdarjang Observatory.
Hundreds of passengers were stuck at the Indira Gandhi International Airport for hours as the day witnessed one of the worst fog spells of the year, forcing 40 flight cancellations, 21 diversions, and more than 600 delays. Airlines like IndiGo and SpiceJet have tweeted about poor visibility and asked passengers to keep a track of their flight status.
An airport official said that since the visibility remained low, between 50 and 125 metres at the facility, departures had to be put on hold around 3 am and they could resume only by 9 am when the visibility went up to around 200 metres.
However, since the arrivals continued under CAT-IIIB, an advanced instrument landing system, it led to congestion on parking bays and taxiways of the airport, causing delays of more than 600 departing flights. The cascading effect of the delays continued till late on Monday evening.
Thirty trains were also delayed by two to seven-and-a-half hours, according to the Indian Railways.
At least six people including two minors died and five others injured after their car skidded off the road and fell into a canal in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
A traffic jam was also reported from DND (Delhi Noida Direct) due to low visibility.
Since December 14, the national capital has been experiencing “severe cold days” with the average minimum temperature on Sunday morning being recorded at 3.4 degrees Celsius.
According to the weather office, severe cold weather is likely to remain over northern India for two more days.