By Nirmal Anshu Ranjan
New Delhi, Jan 12 : Just as most of us were tempted to believe that the winter won’t be that cold this time round, a sudden change in weather conditions across north India has sent a chill down the spine.
Of all the cities experiencing the cold bite, Leh in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir remained frozen at minus 17.7 degrees overnight, while the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir shivered at minus 5 degrees Celsius on Thursday.
Manali, Lahaul-Spiti district in Himachal Predesh, Narnaul in Haryana, Churu and Mount Abu in Rajasthan, Nainital Mussoorie and Haridwar in Uttarakhand were some of the other cities across the country that saw sub-zero temperatures.
“Leh town recorded the coldest night of the season at minus 17.7 degrees Celsius and Kargil town with minus 15.6 degrees today (Thursday),” said the weatherman, adding that night temperatures could drop further due to clear night sky.
“It’s so cold here … I type out ‘water’ and it becomes ‘ice’,” wrote a man jocularly in Whatsapp from Leh. Although it was supposed to be a joke, it did give an idea about the kind of cold people are braving out in the region.
All the water bodies in the Valley have frozen over and fisherman and boatmen are finding it difficult to negotiate their passage through the frozen lakes.
In Himachal Pradesh, Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district was the coldest place in the state, with the night temperature at minus 14.9 degrees Celsius. While Manali recorded a low of minus 7.2 degrees Celsius, Kalpa had it at minus 8 degrees.
What came as a pleasant surprise, though, was formation of Icicles in parts of the capital city of Shimla, which has been experiencing below sub-zero minimum temperature for the last six days.
Old-timers said icicles, a common feature until 1980s, have brought alive memories for them. Those are conjuring up a delightful spectacle for tourists, too.
“It’s a wonderful to see the icicles everywhere after a long time,” octogenarian Balbir Jaswal, who lives in Jakhu hills, the highest point of the town, told IANS.
Another resident Neelam Sharma said that in some areas, the icicles were as long as five feet. “This time the size of icicles is quite big, indicating a return of harsh winters.”
The minimum temperature in Shimla, which received more than 83 cm of snowfall over the weekend, was minus 0.6 degree Celsius, up from Wednesday’s minus 3.2 degrees.
“More rain and snow is expected this weekend,” Manmohan Singh, Director of the Meteorological Office in Shimla, told IANS
The temperatures at Munsiari, Nainital, Mussourie and Haridwar in Uttarakhand also dipped below zero degree Celsius following heavy snowfall in many regions including Badrinath, Gangotri, Kedarnath, Yamunotri, Rudraprayag, Tihri, Pauri and Chamoli.
Temperature in Mussoorie was recorded at 0.5 degrees celsius, Nainital minus 1.5, Haridwar minus 0.1, Pithoragarh 1.2, Roorkie 3.2 and Rishikesh 4.0.
In Haryana, Narnaul was the coldest place in the region, with the minimum temperature slipping below the freezing point on Thursday.
“Most of the places in Punjab and Haryana experienced a piercing cold, recording sub-zero temperatures, affecting normal life,” a weather official said here.
Amritsar was the coldest city in Punjab with a low of 0.8 degree Celsius, and dense fog prevailed in Punjab, with visibility reduced to less than 50 metres at various places in the morning.
In Ludhiana and Patiala, the minimum temperatures were recorded at 1.7 and 3.2 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Chilly winds continued to blow across Rajasthan, with the minimum temperature dropping to minus 1.9 degrees celsius in Churu.
Mount Abu, the only hill station in the desert state, was shivering at minus 2 degrees celsius, Sri Ganganagar at minus 1.1 and Dabok at 2.5 degrees celsius were quite chilly.
The cold wave conditions have, however, come as a boon for the sellers of tea, eggs and groundnut, who are witnessing a huge increase in their earnings, thanks to the cold weather.
The national capital continued to be in the grip of a cold wave on Thursday as the mercury dipped to two degrees Celsius at various places. Keeping up with its falling trend for the fifth consecutive day, Delhi experienced the coldest morning this season.
The weather office also said that the cold wave like situation would continue in Delhi at least until Sunday and the minimum and maximum temperatures may increase after January 15.
So, one shouldn’t wonder if cold-bitten people decide to tweak the Shakespeare’s poem a little to read “Don’t blow thou winter wind, thou are so unkind…” from “Blow, blow thou winter wind; Thou art not so unkind, as man’s ingratitude”.