New Delhi: Northern India was fully in the grip of cold weather conditions on Sunday with widespread snowfall in the hilly areas even as the winter claimed its first casualties in Jammu and Kashmir where two teenaged girls lost their lives after being trapped beneath an avalanche.
Delhi woke up for a second day to cloudy skies and hazy weather with chilly winds bringing down the mercury in the national capital.
The maximum temperature dropped four notches below normal to 17.4 degrees Celsius, but the minimum was recorded four notches above normal at 12.0 degrees. The city reported high humidity levels of between 98 and 88 per cent.
The weatherman has predicted clear skies tomorrow although fog is expected in the morning.
Further north, in J&K, two teenaged girls were killed today after being buried alive under a mound of snow when an avalanche struck in the Gurez area in north Kashmir`s Bandipora district, police said.
A massive search operation was undertaken to recover the bodies of Shafeeqa Bano (18) and Dilshada Bano (16), who met with the mishap when thay had gone to fetch water from Kishenganga river.
The area was one of the several parts of Kashmir that received snowfall in the past 24 hours.
Srinagar recorded 1.8cm of snowfall while the minimum in the city increased last night from -3.9 degrees Celsius to settle at a low of 0.3 degrees.
Qazigund received 13cm snow while the Pahalgam hill resort received 17cm snow and recorded a low of -2.4 degrees, a rise of over two degrees from the previous night`s -5.6 degrees.
The ski resort of Gulmarg received 15cm snowfall.
The minimum also increased in Leh as the mercury touched -6.2 degrees, as against -12.4 degrees yesterday.
The forecast is for light rain or snowfall at a few places in the state with a decrease in precipitation over the coming two days.
In Himachal Pradesh, the tourist resorts of Shimla, Manali and Chail got the first snowfall of the season while the lower reaches were drenched by widespread heavy rain.
It was a white Sunday for Shimlaites with the entire town
and its suburbs covered under a thin blanket of snow even as high velocity icy winds swept the area. Shimla, where it snowed in the third week of December after a gap of 21 years, received 10cm snow and recorded a minimum of 0.2 degrees.
High altitude areas of Lahaul and Spiti, Kinnaur, Pangi and Bharmaur and adjoining valley areas reeled under the biting cold as the mercury dipped to stay between -8 and -16 degrees amidst intermittent snowfall.
Among the places where it rained, Kangra was the wettest with 55mm rainfall while Dharamsala and Chamba recorded 45mm and 40mm, respectively.
Lower down, light to moderate rainfall was reported at isolated places in Uttar Pradesh over the last 24 hours.
Deoband received 30mm rainfall followed by Nakur, Saharanpur and Bijnore, which got 10mm each.
The lowest temperature in UP was 7.5 degrees recorded at Orai.
Punjab and Haryana, too, received light to moderate rainfall at a few places even as the minimum stayed above normal levels in the two neighbouring states.
Also, dense fog, which had paralysed normal life in the two states in the past days, lifted from many places, bringing comfort.
Chandigarh received 9.9mm rainfall while Ludhiana experienced showers measuring 14.1mm. Ambala got 1.4mm and Panchkula received 14mm rain.
The minimum in the area hovered a couple of notches above normal levels.
In Rajasthan, dense fog continued to disrupt normal life for the second consecutive day today with poor visibility affecting road and rail traffic across the state.
Mount Abu recorded the lowest temperature in the state yesterday, touching freezing point.
Twenty-two trains were rescheduled and running late due to heavy fog in northern India, a North Western Railway spokesman, meanwhile, said.