An intense cold wave gripped entire Himachal Pradesh as minimum temperatures dropped to below freezing point at most places.
The minimum temperatures dipped 10-12 degrees below freezing point in high altitude tribal areas, mountain passes, and other higher ranges, while several other places reeled under lower reaches of sub-zero temperature. Keylong in tribal Lahaul valley recorded minus 7.9 degrees, followed by Kusumseri minus 5.0 degrees, Kalpa minus 3.6 degrees, Manali minus 0.6 degrees, and Bhuntar minus 0.4 degrees. Solan and Shimla recorded a minimum of 2.3 and 4.5 degrees Celsius, in that order.
Dense fog engulfed the lower hills of the state. The cold wave conditions are likely to continue, according to the weather department. The local MeT office has predicted light rainfall at isolated places in lower, mid, and higher hills on Thursday and rains at isolated places and in mid-hills and rains or snow at isolated places in higher hills on Friday. The state remained bereft of its usual share of rains. The dry spell for it has meant that the region has received 0.5 mm rains on the whole from December 1 to December 27 against a normal of 30.9 mm -- a deficit of 98 per cent.
All districts except Lahaul and Spiti received 100 per cent deficit rains, adding to the anxiety of farmers and apple growers. A prolonged dry spell is not good for the apple crop and other winter crops and can also cause fodder shortage, said an orchardist from Sandhu in Shimla district.