It is this winter's lowest in Leh town — minus 23.6 degrees Celsius
Leh town in Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday saw mercury levels nosedive to minus 23.6 degrees Celsius — this winter's lowest according to a Meteorological Department official — as an intense cold wave gripped northern India, claiming at least eight lives.
The cold wave has also intensified in the Gulmarg skiing resort in north Kashmir and the Pahalgam resort in south Kashmir, where the temperatures plunged to12 degrees below freezing point — the coldest night in both tourist spots this winter.
Qazigund, gateway town to the Kashmir Valley, was freezing at minus 7.4 degrees Celsius, while Kokernag town in Anantnag district recorded a night temperature of minus six degrees Celsius.
In Srinagar, which saw a minimum of 0.8 degrees above the melting point of ice on Saturday, the temperature plunged to minus 2.4 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, two-way traffic has resumed on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only road link between Kashmir and the rest of the country.
Delhi shivered on yet another cold morning as the maximum dropped to 14.6 degrees Celsius, six degrees below normal for this period of time, while the minimum was recorded at 7.8 degrees, one degree above normal, the Met Office said.
Five more deaths were reported in different parts of Uttar Pradesh as the mercury level dipped sharply due to showers at a few places, taking the toll to 24. While a 70-year-old man and a two-year-old boy died in Bahraich and Farukkhabad districts, one death each was reported from Sitapur, Mahoba and Chitrakoot due to cold in the last 24 hours, official sources said.
Three deaths were reported from Jammu and Kashmir.
In Himachal Pradesh, despite a clear and sunny day, temperatures dropped further. Tap water froze at many places in lower and mid-range hills, while a thick ground frost occurred in mid and higher-range hills.
Shimla recorded a low of 1.7 degrees Celsius. Keylong, headquarters of the tribal Lahaul & Spiti district, experienced its coldest night with the temperature dipping to minus 12.9 degree Celsius.
Nahan in Sirmaur district recorded a low of 2.1 degrees Celsius, five degrees below normal, while Mandi, Palampur and Dharamsala recorded minimum temperatures at 2.3, 2.6 and 3.1 degrees Celsius, two to three degrees below normal. The roads and high mountain passes of Rohtang and Kunzam, which provide access to the valley, were completely blocked by 200-300 cm of snow.
The cold wave swept across Rajasthan with Mount Abu recording a low of minus 4.2 degrees Celsius, making it the coldest place in the desert State.