Cold wave grips India as Kerala's Munnar battles frost blanket and Shimla residents bring out umbrellas to escape snowfall

  • Many districts in Kerala including Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram recorded a sharp fall in minimum temperatures on Sunday

  • Tea plantation owners are concerned about the possibility of tea leaves wilting due to the heavy frosting

  • Cold waves North India have brought down the temperature and these are likely to continue for another week

Less than a week after Bengaluru saw a minimum temperature of 7 degrees Celsius, Kerala's Munnar recorded sub-zero temperatures over the weekend, resulting in a blanket of frost across the popular hill-station on Saturday. According to reports Chendura, Chittuvara and Lakkad areas of Munnar recorded a temperature of -3 degrees Celsius on Saturday.

A thick layer of frost and dense fog descended on Munnar on Saturday. The Times of India reported that the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that minimum temperatures were falling below the usual in Malappuram and Kollam districts. Idukki, Wayanad, Alappuzha, Kannur, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthapuram districts recorded a sharp fall in minimum temperatures on Sunday.

Even though Munnar is welcoming an increase in tourists, The News Minute reported that tea plantation owners are concerned about the possibility of tea leaves wilting due to the heavy frosting. Tea plantations are a large part of livelihood in Munnar.

On Saturday, reports also said that the IMD had predicted ground frost in Nilgiris, Coimbatore, and Dindigul districts in Tamil Nadu. Places like Ooty, Valparai and Kodaikkanal recorded single digit temperatures, with minimum temperatures dipping as low as 4 degrees Celsius at some places. According to a report by The News Minute, an extensive frosting was also seen in these areas.

Weather blogger Tamil Nadu Weatherman wrote in a Facebook post, "With Jet stream expected to dip again and then with High pressure expected to dominate the Indian peninsula, the cold days are expected to continue in interior Tamil Nadu. Bangalore, Mysuru too will be colder than normal." Jet streams are panels of strong winds that create a border between hot and cold weather.

Cold wave in south India

On 4 January, cold weather with minimum temperature below 7 degrees Celsius accompanied by fog disrupted flights in Bengaluru. IANS quoted Director of Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) GS Srinivasa Reddy as saying, "A minimum temperature of 6.3 degrees Celsius was recorded on Friday morning in Bengaluru, the lowest temperatures witnessed in the past few years."

"The cold waves from the northern part of the country towards the south have brought down the temperature in the city and is likely to continue for another week," Reddy said.

At least 50 flights were affected since early on 4 January through delays, diversions to other airports and cancellation of services at the Kempegowda International Airport on the city's outskirts as a result of fog, according to the airport's website. "As many as 42 flights were delayed and eight flights were diverted due to fog," a statement from the airport said.

Besides the state capital, cold weather also gripped Karnataka's northern districts including Bidar, Kalaburagi and Vijayapura. "As the cold winds from states like Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh flowing towards south India hit the northern districts of Karnataka first, they have been witnessing colder temperatures," assessed an official of the KSNDMC, which is the state-run IMD Bengaluru centre.

As a result of the low temperatures, the grape crop which is predominantly grown in the northern parts of Vijayapura has been affected. "Grape crops, which are highly sensitive to low temperatures, have been hit due to the cold temperatures," Reddy said.

On 2 January, several parts of Telangana, including Hyderabad, continued to experience cold conditions with the lowest minimum temperature of six degrees Celsius recorded in districts of Adilabad and Medak. Severe cold wave conditions prevailed in isolated places in the districts of Peddapalle, PTI reported.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) decided to distribute blankets to the homeless who sleep on the pavements.

The Corporation Commissioner M Dana Kishore said about 700 people were taking shelter in about 15 night shelters already set up here. He asked the civic body officials to provide shelter to the roofless in community halls and night shelters, according to a press release.

Cold wave in central India

The cold wave also swept over parts of Maharashtra in the last week of December, with as many as five locations in the state, including Pune, breaking a 10-year record of minimum temperatures. A cold wave warning was also issued for isolated places in Vidarbha and North Maharashtra. Officials had said that there could also be ground frost in the adjoining areas of Nagpur and a few other places in Vidarbha.

Nagpur was the coldest in the state, recording 3.5 degrees Celsius at night, an almost 9-degree deviation from the norm. It was colder than places like Shimla in Himachal Pradesh, Patiala in Punjab and Banihal in Jammu and Kashmir on 29 December. At 5.9 degrees Celsius, Pune recorded its coldest morning in 18 years on 29 December. Reports from Mahabaleshwar also indicated ice and ground frost formation around Venna Lake.

Cold wave in north India

While Delhi saw the third coldest December in the past 50 years last year with an average minimum temperature of 6.7 degrees Celsius, the winter chill gripped several other parts of northern, western and central India.

The IMD has predicted heavy snowfall in the hills of Uttarakhand over Monday and Tuesday, prompting the state government to ask all district magistrates to make necessary arrangements to help the people.

Heavy snowfall is likely to occur at isolated places in Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Bageshwar and Pithoragarh districts during the next 24 hours, IMD said. Hailstorm is also likely at isolated places, especially in Dehradun, Tehri, Pauri, Haridwar, Nainital, Champawat and US Nagar districts during the period. The sky was mostly overcast in Dehradun, where it drizzled towards the evening, causing the chill in the air to intensify.

Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat asked district administration to take precautionary measures like lighting bonfires in public places, including bus stands and railway stations, besides making necessary arrangements at shelter homes to protect the poor and homeless from the cold.

The chief minister asked the Garhwal and Kumaon commissioners to take help from municipal corporations, if necessary, and ensure that no one suffered due to the cold.

Shimla, the Himachal Pradesh capital witnessed snowfall on Sunday, the second time this season, while the state's higher reaches received snow overnight intensifying cold wave conditions in the region, the IMD said.

The first snowfall of the year in Shimla brought cheers to tourists, hoteliers and horticulturists. The sky is still overcast indicating that it may snow again. Hundreds of tourists gathered at the historical Ridge and the Mall road in Shimla to enjoy the snowfall.

Shimla received 5 centimetres of snow between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm on Sunday and recorded a maximum temperature of 3.7 degrees Celsius, while tourist spots Narkanda and Kufri in the district also witnessed light snowfall, the director of the IMD centre said.

In Punjab and Haryana, several parts remained engulfed under a thick blanket of fog on Saturday which adversely affected the air, rail and road traffic in the region, according to a PTI report.

The cold wave in Kashmir intensified on last week as mercury slipped several degrees below freezing point in most places of the valley with Gulmarg recording the lowest night temperature of minus 10 degrees Celsius.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Jan 07, 2019 16:42:13 IST