Even as we write this article, Delhi and adjoining areas including the hills of the North and the plains along the river Ganga continue to shiver under intense cold wave. Some scientists say this is the coldest winter in 118 years. Monday saw a cold and foggy morning in the national capital and its suburbs with the minimum temperature plunging to almost 2 degrees Celsius. News agency PTI reported thousands of people stranded at airports and railway stations as flights and trains were delayed with the visibility dropping to zero meters in some places. To make things worse, pollution levels were also high with Delhi's air quality index at 448 at 9.38 am.
With temperatures dropping in New Delhi and many cities including Amritsar and Chandigarh, street vendors, auto-rickshaw drivers and people who sleep on the streets of the capital wrapped themselves in hooded sweaters and blankets, and warmed their hands over small bonfires. The city was set to register its coldest December day since 1901.
Over 530 flights delayed at Delhi airport; train services hit
At least 16 flights were diverted and four cancelled from the Delhi airport due to the heavy fog. More than 530 flights were delayed due to fog, PTI reported. Flights are operating at the airport under CAT III B conditions, which means the runway visual range (RVR) is between 50 metres and 175 metres. Giving an update on flight operations at 11:08 am, the official said 16 flights were diverted and four cancelled "as of now".
Train travellers were also hit due to the fog, marring year-end holidays for some and urgent travel plans for others. Thirty trains were delayed by two to seven-and-a-half hours, according to a Railways official.
The Delhi-Bhubaneshwar Rajdhani was delayed by seven-and-a-half hours. While some people went about their work, many decided to stay at home, peering out of their windows hoping to catch a glimpse of the sun through the blanket of fog.
6 killed in Greater Noida accident
As a thick fog descended over the region, six people, including two minors, were killed when their car skidded off the road and fell into a canal in Uttar Pradesh's Greater Noida, apparently due to low visibility.
The minimum temperature settled at 2.6 degrees Celsius at the Safdarjung observatory, four notches below the season's average, and humidity was 100 per cent. At Palam, it was marginally better at 2.9 degrees Celsius, while it was colder at Lodhi Road (2.2 degrees Celsius) and Ayanagar (2.5 degrees Celsius). The visibility recorded by the Safdarjung and Palam observatories stood at zero metres at 8.30 am. It was recorded at 100 metres at Safdarjung and zero at Palam at 5.30 am. The intense cold, high humidity, and low wind speed allowed the accumulation of pollutants leading to further deterioration in the national capital's air quality.
Temperature in major cities:
Precautions you must take:
- Cover your body with warm clothes, gloves, caps, socks
- Drink four to five glasses of lukewarm water everyday
- Use oil heaters instead of conventional heaters as they leave the atmosphere dry
- For morning walkers, doctors advise: "Walk in the morning but after sunrise when it becomes a little warmer."
- Cold, cough is common in this weather. To avoid catching a cold, wear multiple layered clothes and try home remedies such as gargling hot water and steam intake to keep cold and cough at bay.
(PTI and AP Inputs)