IMD predicts return of cold wave in northwest India
New Delhi: A fresh spell of cold wave in northwest India next week would see mercury dropping by three to five degrees Celsius, the India Meteorological Department said on Thursday even as the chilly conditions abated slightly in many states providing relief to people.
Western disturbance and consequent stronger surface winds have significantly improved fog conditions over Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, and western Uttar Pradesh. However, dense to very dense fog continues over eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Delhi witnessed light rainfall on Thursday and recorded a minimum temperature of 9.3 degrees Celsius — two notches above the season’s average — with the weather department predicting a return of cold wave conditions in the city next week.
The national capital recorded a cold wave spell from January 5 to January 9, the longest in the month in a decade, according to IMD data. In Rajasthan, Fatehpur in Sikar and Churu recorded minimum temperatures of minus 1.8 degrees Celsius and minus 1.5 degrees Celsius on January 5.
Chandigarh witnessed a bright sunny day after days of cold and foggy weather. The city recorded a minimum temperature of 9.2 degrees Celsius. In Haryana, Ambala recorded a low of 8 degrees Celsius, Hisar 8.5 degrees Celsius, Karnal 8.7 degrees Celsius, Narnaul 9 degrees Celsius, Rohtak 9.2 degrees Celsius and Sirsa 9.2 degrees Celsius.
In Punjab, Amritsar recorded a low of 10 degrees Celsius, Patiala 8.4 degrees Celsius, Pathankot 8.5 degrees Celsius, Faridkot 9 degrees Celsius and Muktsar 9.6 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature in Mohali settled at 9.1 degrees Celsius.
The higher reaches of Kashmir received snowfall for the second consecutive day as the night temperature dropped below freezing point across the Valley, officials said on Thursday.
Snowfall continued in Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and other higher reaches of Kashmir. The officials said many areas in the plains of Kashmir received intermittent light rain.
The meteorological office, in a statement, said, “Minimum temperatures over many parts of northwest India are very likely to fall by three five degrees from January 14.”
“Severe cold wave conditions (are) likely over some parts of north Rajasthan and cold wave conditions in isolated pockets likely over Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana on January 15, 16 and 17,” it said.
Mahesh Palawat, vice president (meteorology and climate change), of Skymet Weather, said sub-zero temperatures are expected in some parts of Rajasthan such as Churu and Sikar next week. “The mercury may dip to minus 2 degrees Celsius at these places, which is not unusual,” he said.
A severe cold wave is likely to wallop Delhi on January 16 and 17 and minimum temperatures in the city may drop to two to four degrees Celsius, Palawat said.
An independent weatherman predicted that temperatures in the plains may drop to an immobilizing minus four degrees Celsius next week.
“Upcoming spell of coldwave in India looks really extreme during January 14 to 19 with a peak on the 16th to 18th. Never seen a temperature ensemble going this low in a prediction model so far in my career. Freezing minus 4 degree Celsius to two degrees Celsius in plains, Wow!” tweeted Navdeep Dahiya.
Palawat, however, said the upcoming cold wave spell is unlikely to match the intensity of the previous one because another western disturbance will bring relief starting January 19. “The gap between two western disturbances is shorter this time,” he said.
When a western disturbance — a weather system characterised by warm moist winds from the Middle East — approaches a region, the wind direction changes. The chilly northwesterly winds from the mountains stop blowing, leading to an increase in temperatures.
Before the current western disturbance brought relief from cold conditions, large parts of north and northwest India recorded below-normal maximum and minimum temperatures on most days this month, an IMD official said.
This was due to a layer of dense fog persisting over the Indo-Gangetic plains for the last 10 to 11 days and a large gap between two western disturbances, which meant frosty winds from the snow-clad mountains blew in for a longer-than-usual period, he said.
The Indo-Gangetic plains have a lot of moisture owing to the large number of water bodies and rivers in the region. High moisture content, low temperatures and calm winds are the recipes for dense fog, the official explained.
“The region recorded below-normal maximum temperatures this month so far due to dense fog that reduced sunshine hours. Low day temperatures mean early cooling and early fog formation in the evening,” the official said.
After the prevailing western disturbance retreats, frosty northwesterly winds will start blowing towards the plains.
In the plains, a cold wave is declared if the minimum temperature dips to 4 degrees Celsius or when it is 10 degrees Celsius and 4.5 notches below normal.
A severe cold wave is when the minimum temperature dips to 2 degrees Celsius or the departure from the normal limits is by more than 6.4 notches. A cold day is when the minimum temperature is less than or equal to 10 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature is at least 4.5 notches below normal.
A severe cold day is when the maximum temperature is at least 6.5 notches below normal.