New Delhi, Jan 3 (IANS) Bone-chilling cold swept across north India Monday driving people indoors as many parts of the vast Indo-Gangetic plains reeled under the plummeting temperatures. The severe conditions have claimed 30 lives in Uttar Pradesh.
According to officials in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow, six people died Monday in different parts of the state due to severe cold, taking the season's toll to 30.
Weather offices across the various states have forecast low temperatures for the rest of the week.
Leh in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir led the list of sub-zero towns as it was freezing at minus 23 degrees.
The biting cold and icy winds found people shivering even in their woollens and around bonfires in Delhi as well as in neighbouring cities and towns of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
According to officials, the Kashmir Valley will continue to be in the grip of the freezing temperature for days to come.
In Srinagar mercury slipped to minus 5.2 degrees Monday while Leh remained frozen at minus 23. Kargil (minus 18.2 degrees), Pahalgam (minus 12.4 degrees) and Gulmarg (minus 11.7 degrees) also suffered similar bone-chilling conditions.
In Himachal Pradesh, Keylong, the headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti, recorded the season's low at minus 17 degrees - down by 4.1 degrees from Sunday.
Most towns in Himachal Pradesh continued to reel in sub-zero temperatures or around the freezing point due to icy winds, the weather office in Shimla said.
Kalpa in Kinnaur district (minus 6.6 degrees), Bhuntar near Kullu (minus 0.4 degree), Sundernagar near Mandi (minus 0.2 degree) and Dharmasala (3.1 degrees) bore the brunt of the cold wave.
Shimla recorded a low of 3.7 degrees Celsius, where the day was comparatively warmer at 14.1 degrees, the Met Office said.
Cold winds also blew across Delhi throughout a cloudy Monday and the temperature swung between 8.2 degrees and 14.7 degrees Celsius. Though the day was dull and dark, air or rail traffic was not disrupted except for some delayed services.
The weatherman has forecast similar conditions during the rest of the week for the national capital.
Intense cold conditions combined with fog also continued to grip parts of Uttar Pradesh. Agra was the coldest at 2.6 degrees Celsius, five degrees Celsius below what is the average for early January. Primary schools in the city have been closed for two more days because of the harsh cold, officials said.
The day temperatures in Lucknow Monday was 14.4 degrees, nine degrees below average, while the minimum dipped to 3.6 degrees.
'The moisture in the air is likely to dry up in a week after which there would be relief from foggy weather,' Met Office director J.P. Gupta said.
Overcast conditions added to the winter woes for people in Punjab and Haryana Monday. Narnaul town in Haryana was the coldest in the state at 2.6 degrees, about five notches below the average.
The cold wave also hit other Haryana towns like Ambala (7.3 degrees), Hisar (5.6 degrees) and Karnal (8.6). It was 8.7 degrees in Chandigarh.
The Chandigarh administration has extended the winter vacations for primary classes, in both private and government schools here, till Jan 9.
Punjab was comparatively warmer. Amritsar recorded a minimum temperature of 7.4 degrees Monday morning.
Ludhiana and Patiala cities recorded lows of 8.9 and 7.6 degrees Celsius respectively.