Icy winds cut across North India; Leh records –14.9 degrees C
With the mercury constantly dipping across the State, the capital town and a majority of other hill resorts are expecting a white New Year eve this time.
The temperature on Sunday plunged to minus degrees in about half a dozen towns. Intermittent rain and snow are expected in the middle and higher ranges of the State over next two days, the Meteorological department said.
Snow covered the higher mountains of the State and rains poured in the lower alleviations before Christmas, resulting in a massive inflow of tourists to Shimla, Kufri, Narkanda, Mashobara, Kullu-Manali, Dalhousie and Chamba towns.
The district headquarters of Lahaul-Spiti recorded a temperature of - 9.7 degrees, Kalpa in Kinnaur -5 degrees, Manali -2.4 degrees, Bhuntar in Kullu -1 degree and Solan -0.6 degrees Celsuius. Even the towns in the lowest alleviations such as Una and Hamirpur recorded temperatures of 0.5 degrees and 0.6 degrees Celsius.
The maximum temperature during the day (20 degrees) was recorded in Una. A majority of hotels and guest houses in the hills are almost booked for the year-end and are receiving constant enquiries about the possible snowfall on December 30 and 31, said a spokesman of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Shimla. The State tourism department has also identified some home-stay units in addition to its own hotels and resorts.
The total number of tourists every year in the hill State now surpasses its population of 6.8 million.
But due to little air or rail connectivity, high-end tourists are still very few, complained majority travel agents here.
The cold wave tightened its grip of North India as the temperature in several parts of the region plummeted due to icy winds.
Delhi woke up to a clear sky but experienced a chilly day as cold winds swept across the national capital.
In Punjab, Adampur was the coldest place at 1.3 degrees, Meteorological department officials said.
Higher up, the minimum temperatures stayed below the freezing point in the Kashmir Valley.
Leh, the frontier region of Ladakh, was the coldest place in the State at -14.9 degrees.
Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, registered a low of -1.9 degrees, a drop of over one degree from the previous night.
Kargil town, which recorded the coldest night of the season at -15.7 degrees on Friday, registered an increase of one degree.
The mercury plummeted to -9.1 degree and -5.6 degree at Keylong and Kalpa in tribal Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts respectively.
All natural sources in tribal areas have been frozen for the past one month, drastically reducing the discharge of water in the snow-fed Sutlej, Ravi and Beas rivers, causing a sharp fall in hydro-power generation.
In Rajasthan, Churu recorded a low of 0.6 degrees. The sole hill station in the desert State, Mount Abu, recorded a night temperature of -0.5 degrees.