NEW DELHI: North India continued to reel under intense cold on Sunday with authorities in Haryana deciding to close schools and reduced visibility due to dense fog hampering the movement of flights and trains.
While Srinagar recorded the coldest night of the season, Jaipur registered the lowest minimum temperature in more than five decades.
However, Delhi, which is witnessing the longest spell of cold weather in the last 22 years, is likely to get some relief from the intense cold wave starting Monday as the wind direction is expected to change, the Met office said.
"Change in wind direction from north-westerly to easterly has started and reduction in cold day and cold wave has begun from today (Sunday). This is reflected in the maximum and minimum temperatures," the official said.
Since December 14, the national capital has been experiencing "severe cold days" with the average minimum temperature on Sunday morning being recorded at 3.4 degrees Celsius, four notches below what is considered normal for this time of the year.
The minimum temperature in various parts of Delhi varied with 2.5 degrees Celsius being recorded at Ayanagar, 2.8 degrees Celsius at Lodhi Road, 3.2 degrees Celsius at Palam and 3.6 degrees Celsius at Safdarjung.
The maximum temperature in various parts of Delhi varied with 14.8 degrees Celsius at Ayanagar, 15.6 degrees Celsius at Lodhi Road, 13.5 degrees Celsius at Palam and 15.8 degrees Celsius at Safdarjung.
Due to the cold wave, there was dense fog in the morning at Palam which reduced visibility to 150 meters.
At Safdarjung, there was moderate fog with a visibility of 600 meters.
The mean temperature for December 2019 till Sunday was 19.07 degrees Celsius and it is "most likely to become second coldest December since 1901", behind 17.3 degrees Celsius in December 1997, the Met department said.
A significant increase in wind speed is expected over Delhi-NCR from Tuesday evening under the influence of approaching western disturbance and easterly winds in lower level.
Light rain is expected over Delhi-NCR during the night from January 1 to January 3, 2020 and hailstorm is expected on January 2, 2020, it added.
Delhi had recorded the season's coldest day on Saturday with the minimum temperature dropping to 2.4 degrees Celsius.
While 13 trains were delayed for up to six hours due to fog, the operations were normal at Delhi airport and there were no diversion or cancellations.
In Haryana, where the minimum temperatures have been hovering close to the freezing point at some places, the state government has decided to close schools on December 30 and 31, an official statement said.
"Thereafter, between January 1 to January 15, 2020, all schools in the state will remain closed on account of winter holidays," it said.
The day temperatures in Haryana have been settling in the range of 10-13 degrees Celsius at most places.
The Met department said severe cold will continue unabated over the next couple of days in Haryana and Punjab.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the fringes of the Dal Lake froze on Sunday as the mercury continued its freefall in Srinagar which experienced the coldest night of the season at minus 6.2 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature across the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh Union Territory stayed several degrees below the freezing point, intensifying the cold wave in some areas in the region, the Met department said.
Snow-bound Banihal town along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway recorded a low of minus 2.2 degrees Celsius while the minimum in Bhaderwah in Doda district was minus 0.8 degrees Celsius.
Jammu recorded a minimum of 5.7 degrees Celsius, 1.7 notches below normal, against the previous night's 6.2 degrees Celsius.
Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district, recorded a minimum of 3.3 degrees Celsius, the official said, adding the town recorded the coldest night of the season on Friday when the mercury plummeted to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded the low of minus 6.6 degrees Celsius last night, up from the previous night's minus 7.5 degrees Celsius, he said.
The night temperature at Pahalgam resort, which also serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra in south Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 10.4 degrees Celsius as against minus 11.2 degrees Celsius on Saturday, he said.
Pahalgam, in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, was the coldest recorded place in the valley, he added.
He said Leh town, in the Ladakh Union territory, recorded a low of minus 19 degrees Celsius - compared to the previous night's minus 19.1 degrees.
The nearby Drass town froze at a low of minus 28.7 degrees Celsius.
The Met office has forecast rains and snowfall in Kashmir on New Year's eve which is likely to bring respite from cold.
Himachal Pradesh too is likely to witness snowfall on New Year's eve while isolated places in the plains and low hills may get rainfall on January 1 and 2.
The minimum temperature in several parts of the state settled around two notches below the season's normal on Sunday, with Keylong recording a low of minus 11 degrees Celsius.
Manali, Solan, Bhuntar, Sundernagar and Kalpa shivered at sub-zero temperatures.
The Met department has forecast dense fog in isolated places of plains and low hills of the state for Monday.
In Rajasthan, Jaipur's minimum temperature settled at 1.4 degrees Celsius-- lowest since December 13, 1964 while heavy fog and intense cold wave affected normal life Mount Abu, the state's sole hill station recorded a temperature of 3 degrees Celsius below the freezing point on Sunday morning.
Sikar recorded zero degrees Celsius followed by Churu (1.2 degrees Celsius), Pilani (1.6 degrees Celsius), Banasthali (1.8 degrees Celsius), Bikaner (2.6 degrees Celsius), Kota (2.8 degrees Celsius) and Jaisalmer (3 degrees Celsius).
Traffic movement was affected due to dense fog in Pilani, Churu, Tonk, Jaipur, Kota, Swai Madhopur, Bundi, Bikaner, Sriganganagar and Jaisalmer districts, the official said.
The minimum temperatures in most parts of the state are likely to drop further in the next couple of days, he added.
In Uttar Pradesh, dry weather persisted while cold wave intensified in most parts.
According to the meteorological department, rain is likely to lash eastern and western parts of the state on December 31 and January 1, 2020.
Moderate to dense fog occurred at many places in the state, the department said.