Cold grips Uttaranchal, HP; more rains in North

New Delhi Dec 25. Badrinath and Kedarnath, the famous pilgrimage centres in Uttaranchal, and higher hills in Himachal experienced heavy snowfall that plummeted mercury appreciably as rains lashed parts of North India for the second straight day today.

But a `white Christmas' eluded the Queen of Hills Shimla, which had a clear sky after overnight drizzle, and other tourist resorts like Manali, Chail and Barog in Himachal Pradesh.

Cold wave, sweeping the state, intensified as higher reaches had fresh snowing and icy winds lashed mid and lower hills.

All natural lakes, including Nako in Kinnaur and Surjtal in Lahaul, and ponds froze with mercury dipping 10 to 15 degrees below the freezing point at some places.

Tribal valleys, Lahaul and Pangi, were cut off from rest of the state due to heavy snowing on Rohtang Pass.

Uttaranchal was in the grip of severe cold with upper reaches experiencing the season's first snowfall and rains lashing the rest of the state.

Badrinath, Kedarnath, world famous winter sport resort of Auli, Gangotri, Yamnotri and Harsil had snowfall plunging the mercury by several degrees. Jammu received 8 mms of rains as temperature dipped to to 2.5 degrees Celsius in Srinagar which was also lashed by showers.

In Punjab, Amritsar received 14.8 mms of rains since yesterday. Patiala also had some light showers.

In Haryana, Ambala, Hisar and Rohtak also experienced rains.

The Met Office said the sky would remain overcast in Punjab and Haryana for the next two days.

Cold wave death toll 22

Patna: Death toll in Bihar due to cold weather has risen to 22 with seven more deaths reported in three districts of Vaishali, Nawda and Nalanda.

While eight deaths were reported from Vaishali, six from Nawada, four from Saharsa and two each from Nalanda and Patna districts so far.

Official sources said here today that three deaths were reported from Vaishali, while two each from Nawada and Nalanda districts during the last 24 hours.

Sources at the Jai Prakash Narain International Airport said that planes could not land at the airport till 1-30 pm owing to inclement weather. - PTI & UNI