Mercury on upswing, relief for UP too as cold deaths abate



New Delhi: The mercury seemed set on its upward course in most parts of North India on Monday with the region generally experiencing relief from harsh winter chill.

Delhiites welcomed another relatively warm day although a thick blanket of fog enveloped the national capital in the morning, after a run of clear mornings. Air and rail traffic was hampered before conditions improved as the day wore on.

According to the MeT department, the minimum temperature was recorded at three notches above normal at 10.6 degrees Celsius while the maximum was 21 degrees Celsius.

Operations at the Indira Gandhi International Airport were thrown out of gear with 150 flights affected including that of External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid whose plane to Bhutan was delayed by two hours.

Flight operations at the airport came to halt between 5:00 AM and 6.30AM as visibility on the runway dropped below 50 metres with the weatherman predicting mostly clear skies for tomorrow with fog or mist in the morning.

Uttar Pradesh, where the death toll from the cold this season stands at 265, finally had some relief with temperatures rising by a few notches and the state reporting no new casualties for the first time in many days.

With the mercury registering a rise, the coldest place in the state was Najibabad where the thermometer read 5 degrees Celsius.

Up north, night temperatures in most places in Jammu and Kashmir stayed above freezing point for the third straight day today with the minimum in Srinagar recorded at 1.6 degrees celsius, same as the night before.

However, the ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded a dip of four degrees in the night temperature which settled at -8.6 degrees celsius to make it the coldest place in the valley, a MeT official said.

Punjab and Haryana, too, were in the grip of the cold although minimum temperatures in both states saw a slight increase to settle above normal.

Amritsar remained the coldest place in Punjab with a minimum of 3.6 degrees Celsius while Chandigarh experienced a low of 7.7 degrees Celsius, up three notches above normal.

Himachal Pradesh reported little improvement in intense cold wave conditions as mercury rose marginally across the state and stayed close to normal.

The skies were overcast at some places and high altitude tribal areas and hilly regions also received mild snowfall.

Rajasthan saw the cold abate a little more with Mount Abu at 3 degrees Celsius reported to be the coldest place in the state.

PTI