KATHMANDU, Jan 8: Sunday's bitterly cold weather in the capital has set the record for the coldest day of the year so far in the Kathmandu Valley. The minimum temperature in the valley dropped to as low as zero degrees Celsius to set the record, which is already colder than the coldest day of last winter.
With the winter reaching its peak, the weather has been consistently frigid since past week, shows the data maintained by the Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD). The division has predicted that the minimum temperature this week would remain in the range of zero degrees Celsius to two degree Celsius.
MFD's meteorologist Subash Rimal said that the biting cold of the current intensity would remain until the second week of January. “Based on the trend analysis, we predict the temperature to remain in the range of zero degrees Celsius to two degree Celsius until the end of the winter's peak from the second week of January,” he said.
The coldest day of the last year in the valley was recorded at 0.4 degrees Celsius. This winter's coldest day already crossed that record and the MFD says there is a possibility of the temperature dipping down even further. The coldest day ever recorded in the valley was on January 11 of 1978, which set the record of -3.5 degrees Celsius.
To combat the harsh cold, valley denizens could be seen huddled up together around fires lit on the streets during mornings and evenings. Usually shopkeepers and street venders of various inner streets of the valley light fire in a safe corner. The pedestrians too, despite looking to be in a rush, join them for a quick warmth.
The situation is more difficult for people outside the valley. Jumla district had the coldest day on Sunday, with its mercury dipping to -8.7 degrees Celsius. Likewise, much of the tarai belt of the country still remains blanketed with heavy fog during mornings and evenings. Forecasters have urged the residents to brace for colder days ahead as they warn of the possibility of a further dip in mercury.
According to the MFD, tarai districts have not yet experienced cold waves although they remain blanketed under thick fogs during dusks and dawns. “We have certain criteria for dense fogs to be considered as cold waves. The situation is not in that phase yet in tarai districts,” said meteorologist Rimal.
The harsh winter is already affecting normalcy in tarai districts. Many community schools are closed while very little movement of people is seen on the roads. Elderly citizens and children are especially vulnerable to cold and the diseases related with it.
More than a dozen people have already perished this winter due to cold. Homeless people, flood and earthquake victims residing in temporary tents as well as poverty-stricken households dependent on daily-wage labors are badly suffering due to the lack of warm clothes and proper shelter.