Biting cold wave persisted in north India on December 26 as the mercury continued its downward trend and temperatures are likely to drop further in the coming days.
The minimum temperature in the national capital was recorded at 5.8 degrees Celsius while maximum at 13.4 degrees Celsius, seven notches below normal. Humidity levels shot up to 100 per cent.
The city is likely to record its longest cold spell in December after 1997 as temperatures are predicted to drop further, the weather department said.
Many areas in the city have witnessed 13 consecutive "cold days" since December 14, the last time such a long cold spell was witnessed in1997 when it recorded 17 cold days.
The mercury is predicted to drop to 4 degrees Celsius on the weekend, the MeT said.
According to Kuldeep Srivastava, head of the India Meteorological Department's regional forecasting centre, a "cold day" is when the maximum temperature is at least 4.5 notches below the normal. A "severe cold day" is when the maximum temperature is at least 6.5 degrees Celsius below the normal, he said.
The air quality in the city was recorded in the very poor category (349) at 4 pm.
Cold wave intensified in Punjab and Haryana as the minimum and maximum temperatures further plummeted in the two states.
Narnaul in Haryana was the coldest place with the mercury dropping to 2.5 degrees Celsius.
Hisar was also chilling with a minimum of 3.3 degrees Celsius, a Meteorological Department weather report said.
The minimum temperature also dropped in Rohtak (3.4), Bhiwani (4.8), Sirsa (4.3), Ambala (5.3) and Karnal (6).
Bathinda in Punjab was the coldest place recording a low of 4 degrees Celsius. Faridkot (4.5), Ludhiana (6.6), Patiala (6.4), Halwara (5.8), Adampur (6.8), Pathankot (6.4) and Amritsar (6.5) too experienced a cold night.
Chandigarh, the common capital of the two states, recorded a low of 6.5 degrees Celsius.
The severe cold wave and foggy weather conditions will continue to prevail in the two states over the next three days, the MeT said.
The Drass belt of Kargil district became the coldest place in the twin Union Territories of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh recording a minimum temperature of minus 30.2 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature across Kashmir and Ladakh remained several degrees below the freezing point, an official of the Meteorological Department said.
Night temperatures plummeted at most places in the region, with Srinagar recording its coldest night at minus 5.0 degrees Celsius, he said.
He said the minimum temperature in winter capital Jammu settled at 6.4 degrees Celsius, 1.8 notches below the season's average.
The minimum and maximum temperatures in Drass were recorded at minus 30.2 degrees Celsius and minus 13 degrees Celsius respectively. Leh recorded a low of minus 18 degrees Celsius, the weather office said.
Pahalgam, in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, was the coldest recorded place in the valley, he added.
The minimum temperature in the snow-bound Pahalgam hill resort settled at minus 12.7 degrees Celsius while, Gulmargh and Kupwara township of north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 11.2 and minus 5.6 degrees Celsius respectively.
Katra, which serves as the base camp for pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district of Jammu region, recorded 3.2 degrees Celsius, the official said, adding that Bhadarwah township of Doda district was, however, the coldest place in the region with a minimum recorded temperature of minus 2.7 degrees Celsius, followed by Banihal at minus 2.2 degrees temperature.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai-Kalan'-- the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
The weather remained dry and cold in Himachal Pradesh with the minimum temperature settling 2 to 3 degrees Celsius below normal at many places, the MeT said.
Low visibility due to dense fog was observed in the plains and lower hills, including Una and southwestern part of Kangra district, it said.
The MeT office has predicted snowfall in middle and high hills of the state on December 31 and January 1.
The lowest temperature in the state was recorded in Keylong at minus 14.7 degrees Celsius, while the minimum temperature in state capital Shimla and tourist hotspot Dalhousie was 1 and 1.7 degrees Celsius respectively.
Isolated places in the middle and high hills in the state are likely to receive rain and snowfall on December 31 and January 1, the weatherman said.
Dense fog and cold day conditions are likely in plains and low hills on Friday, he added.
Severe cold conditions also intensified in parts of Rajasthan with the night temperature dipping 1 to 5 degrees Celsius at many places across the state.
Fatehpur town in Sikar district recorded a night temperature of minus 3 degrees Celsius, which is this season's lowest so far.
Severe cold conditions with ground frost and dense fog threw normal life out of gear in the Shekhawati area, comprising Churu, Sikar and Jhununu districts and nearby areas.
According to the MeT, Sikar recorded the night temperature at 0 degree Celsius.
Mount Abu, the hill station, recorded 1 degrees while Churu, Vanasthali, Bikaner, Ganganagar and Ajmer recorded the night temperature at 1.3, 3.2, 3.7, 3.9 and 5.5 degrees Celsius respectively.
The minimum temperature in Jaipur was 5.8 degrees Celsius.
The MeT department has predicted similar weather conditions for the next 48 hours.