A cold, wet and foggy New Year in India
Heavy rain, dense fog and cold weather disrupts New Year travel plans in northern India.
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2012 11:12
A small crowd tries to warm up around a fire in Bihar, India. Even the dogs and monkeys are feeling the cold [AFP]

Heavy rains dampened the New Year celebrations in parts of India as unusually wet weather rolled across the north and east on Sunday. There was widespread disruption for many as flash floods blocked roads and also caused delays in the air and on the railways.

Lucknow in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh state recorded its wettest New Year’s Day for 60 years when 54 mm of rain fell in only 24 hours. Indeed, it was the city’s wettest January day since records began in 1951. To put this into perspective, on average, Lucknow city will see around 16 mm of rain in January.

The rain set in early on Sunday and much of Bihar, West Bengal and northern Orissa also had thundery downpours and gusty winds as the day progressed. The increasing cloud cover did initially allow the temperatures to rise across the cool plains of northern India. Chandigarh in Punjab saw a marked increase in temperature from Saturday night into Sunday morning with a rise of two degrees. As a result, they eventually recorded their warmest New Year’s Day in the last seven years.

The winds are now coming in from the snow-fed areas to the north, so we are likely to see temperatures tumbling again over the next few days. With that there is also the likelihood that the colder air draining down from the Himalayas will lead to dense fog and even lower temperatures, especially over night.

As is often the case at this time of year, New Delhi continues to battle against the fog. On New Year’s Eve the visibility went from 200m to 50m, closing all but the one runway at the main international airport. About 200 flights were held back due to congestion. The fog also affected the movement of 69 trains. Even at the time of writing, some trains are still running between 12 and 24 hours behind schedule.

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