The city experienced its coldest day in 16 years on Wednesday as the mercury dipped to 9 degree Celsius, five degrees below normal.

“The minimum temperature will hover around 9 degree C for the next 48 hours. It is not likely to fall any further,” said Director of the Regional Meteorological Centre G.C. Debnath.

The previous lowest temperature was 9.9 degree Celsius on December 11, 1992.

A cold wave alert has been issued by the meteorological department in some districts. The cold has been more intense in north Bengal and thick fog is expected to last for at least the next two days. Visibility was considerably reduced in several areas of the region during the day.

“The temperature has dropped because of a north-western cold wind and will remain five degrees below normal for the next few days,” said Mr. Debnath.

The minimum temperature dipped to 5 degree Celsius in Cooch Behar in north Bengal. In adjoining Jalpaiguri district, it plummeted to 4 degree Celsius, which is six degrees below normal. The mercury is likely to dip further in the next 48 hours in Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri, Krishnagar and Bankura districts.

Pavement dwellers were seen warming themselves by the side of small fires they had lit.

In north Bengal, authorities decided to keep schools closed till Monday in view of the cold spell.

The administrations in some districts have taken certain measures to protect the homeless from the cold.

“We have distributed blankets to the homeless living on the pavements, train stations and bus terminals,” said District Magistrate, Purulia, Avanindra Singh.