Delhi shivers under ‘long cold wave spell’ as thick fog hits flight and railway services

India’s national capital is reeling under severe cold wave conditions as temperatures in Delhi have continued to plummet and thick fog has affected visibility as well as flight and railway services.

On Sunday night, temperatures dipped to 1.9C at Delhi’s primary weather station – the lowest in January in the past two years and the second lowest in January since 2013.

Minimum temperatures in the capital continue to be lower than most places – including in the northern Himalayan hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand – for five consecutive days, reported the Press Trust of India.

Delhi’s primary weather station, the Safdarjung observatory, recorded a slightly higher minimum temperature on Monday, at 3.8C, against the 1.9C temperature it reported on Sunday.

In the past five days, Delhi logged minimum temperatures of 1.9C on Sunday, 2.2C on Saturday, 4C on Friday, 3C on Thursday and 4.4C on Wednesday.

A cold wave is declared in India when the minimum temperature dips to 4C or falls 4.5 degrees below normal to 10C or below, reported Reuters.

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Cold wave conditions coupled with severe fog across the city has struck flight and railway operations.

An official at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said visibility levels dropped to 50 metres at the Palam observatory, near the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) Airport, and 25m at the Safdarjung observatory and Ridge weather station.

Commuters make their way along a street on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi on January 9, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)
Commuters make their way along a street on a foggy winter morning in New Delhi on January 9, 2023. (AFP via Getty Images)

According to airport officials, at least five flights were diverted while another 30 were delayed due to low visibility.

Railway officials in the city said a total 267 trains were delayed due to bad weather.

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Meteorological officials said the long cold wave is due to “a large gap between two western disturbances”.

“The long cold wave spell in Delhi can be attributed to a large gap between two western disturbances which allowed the chilly northwesterly winds from the mountains to affect the plains for a longer-than-usual period,” Mahesh Palawat, vice president of meteorology and climate change at private weather agency Skymet, was quoted as saying.

While the city is expected to get a respite from the severe cold in the coming days, cold wave conditions are expected to return next week.