Several places in north India, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, recorded their minimum temperature below the five-degree Celsius mark on Sunday, with the India Meteorological Department forecasting severe cold wave in parts of the region later this week and warning of dense fog. Though the mercury rose slightly in Delhi due to a Western Disturbance, the department said the relief will be short-lived as cold and dry northerly and northwesterly winds from the western Himalayas are likely to bring the minimum temperature in north India down by three to five degrees Celsius.
"Cold wave to severe cold wave conditions are likely in isolated pockets over Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and north Rajasthan from December 28-29. Ground frost and dense fog is likely in isolated pockets in the region," the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
Gurdaspur in Punjab and Churk in east Uttar Pradesh recorded lows of 2 degrees Celsius and 2.6 degrees Celsius respectively, while cold wave intensified in Kashmir with minimum temperatures dropping across the region to stay several notches below the freezing point.
Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 7.2 degrees Celsius, Qazigund minus five degrees Celsius, Kupwara minus 4.8 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, in the south, recorded minus 4.9 degrees Celsius, according to the meteorological (MeT) department in Srinagar.
"Fairly widespread to widespread rainfall/snowfall is very likely over Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh; scattered rainfall/snowfall over Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and isolated rain/thundershowers over northern parts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh on 27th-28th December," the IMD said in its all-India weather bulletin.
The minimum temperature in Delhi rose slightly under the influence of the Western Disturbance (WD) affecting the upper Himalayas, according to the IMD.
The Safdarjung Observatory, which provides representative data for the city, recorded a minimum of 6 degrees Celsius as against 4.6 degrees Celsius on Saturday.
However, Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the regional forecasting centre of the IMD, said the relief will be short-lived.
The WD will lead to "scattered to fairly widespread" snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Once the wind system withdraws, cold wave to severe cold wave conditions are likely to occur in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and north Rajasthan from December 28-29, it said.
For the plains, the IMD declares a cold wave when the minimum temperature is 10 degrees Celsius or below and is 4.5 notches less than normal.
Biting cold conditions continued to prevail in Haryana and Punjab, with Gurdaspur recording a minimum temperature of 2 degrees Celsius.
While Gurdaspur was the coldest place in Punjab, Narnaul was the coldest at 3.3 degrees Celsius in Haryana, the MeT department in Chandigarh said.
In Haryana, Karnal, Rohtak, Ambala and Hisar recorded respective minimums of 3.8 degrees Celsius, 5.4 degrees Celsius, 4.6 degrees Celsius and 5.8 degrees Celsius.
Chandigarh, the common capital of the two states, registered a low of 4.1 degrees Celsius.
In Punjab, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala recorded respective minimums of 4.8 degrees Celsius, 4.2 degrees Celsius and 3.9 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai-Kalan', the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake, as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The weather has remained dry and cold across Kashmir since the snowfall on December 12, with the night temperature staying several degrees below the freezing point, the MeT department said.
It has forecast light rain or snow in the Kashmir Valley over the next three days.
The officials said Srinagar the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir recorded a low of minus 5.2 degrees Celsius down from the previous night's minus 3.7 degrees Celsius.
They said the mercury in Pahalgam tourist destination in south Kashmir settled at minus 5.9 degrees Celsius, up more than a notch compared to the previous night's low of minus 4.5 degrees Celsius.
The chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum during the 40-day period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall, the officials said.
While 'Chillai-Kalan' -- which began on December 21 -- will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long 'Chillai-Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day-long 'Chillai-Bachha' (baby cold).
Himachal Pradesh's Keylong, Kalpa, Manali, Mandi, Solan, Sundernagar and Bhuntar shivered at sub-zero temperatures.
Keylong was the coldest place in the state at minus 11.6 degrees Celsius, MeT Centre, Shimla, Director Manmohan Singh said.
Kalpa in Kinnaur district and Manali in Kullu district recorded lows of minus 3.4 and minus 0.6 degree Celsius, he added.
Besides Mandi, Bhuntar, Sundernagar and Solan recorded lows of minus 2, minus 1.6, minus 1.2 and minus 0.5 degrees Celsius respectively. Dalhousie and Kufri recorded lows of 2.9 and 3.6 degrees Celsius respectively.
In Uttar Pradesh, cold wave conditions prevailed at isolated places, while some places witnessed dense to very dense fog, the MeT department in Lucknow said.
The weather in the state was dry, it said.
State capital Lucknow recorded a minimum temperature of 5.9 degrees Celsius, Allahabad 7.2 degrees Celsius, Kanpur 5.8 degrees Celsius, Bareilly 4.3 degrees Celsius and Fursatganj 3.1 degrees Celsius.
Mount Abu, the only hill station of Rajasthan, was recorded the coldest place in the state at 2 degrees Celsius even as several places saw an increase of two-three notches in night temperatures.
In the plains, Sriganganagar, Alwar and Sawai Madhopur recorded 6.2, 7.2 and 7.5 degrees Celsius on Saturday night.
Madhya Pradesh, especially its western region, is likely to experience cold wave conditions for the second time this month from December 29, an IMD official said.
Large parts of the state had witnessed biting cold conditions last week. However, the chill had subsided slightly and minimum temperature had increased to some extent over the last few days.
"Cold wave conditions are likely to prevail in Madhya Pradesh, especially its western part, for the second time this month from Tuesday. These conditions may continue for the next three to four days after that," P K Saha, a senior meteorologist with IMD's Bhopal office, said.
"The westerly disturbance has caused snowfall in northern India. This is going to bring chilly winds to Madhya Pradesh by Tuesday. But the cold wave conditions are not expected to last long in the state," he said.
Extreme cold wave conditions are unlikely next week, he said.