Sunday, June 16, 2024

Delhi is colder than Mussoorie, Nainital: Why it doesn’t snow in Capital?

Delhi touched a new low temperature of 3 degrees Celsius, making Thursday one of the coldest days this winter season. The cold wave sweeping over northern India is not likely to abate any time soon.

The prevailing cold snap is making the national capital, located in the plains, far colder than some hills stations. Reports say Delhi’s minimum temperature was lower than Dalhousie (4.9 degrees Celsius), Dharamshala (5.2 degrees Celsius), Kangra (3.2 degrees Celsius), Shimla (3.7 degrees Celsius), Mussoorie (4.4 degrees Celsius) and Nainital (6.2 degrees Celsius).

The cloak of fog over the city is shielding it from sunlight, leading to the chill. The weather department had issued an orange alert for Delhi for Thursday and Friday. A fresh western disturbance expected on January 7 may help disperse the fog and bring some respite, according to an IMD official quoted by media reports.

So, why does it never snow in Delhi?

AI-generated images of what Delhi would look like covered under snow are going viral on the internet today. While the internet was treated to these fairytale-quality views, the truth is that Delhi cannot witness such an event due to various factors.

Though it gets really cold in the city, its location does not permit snowfall. Delhi is a very dry city and the cold peaks there in January when icy winds from the Himalayas blow into the plains, plunging the temperatures low.

The minimum temperature in Delhi and its surrounding does reach the vicinity of 0 degree Celsius, which (zero or sub-zero temperature) is a pre-requisite for precipitation to fall as snow. When the mercury dips to the range of zero degrees, Delhi and other areas usually witness frost, not snow, for which at or below freezing temperatures are necessary.

Also, for it to snow, clouds need to form. If the sky is overcast in Delhi during winter, the cloud cover rather traps heat than does the opposite. For snow, the temperature at ground level too should be sub-zero, that is, at or below freezing temperatures.

Delhi winters are characterised by thick fog and haze which cuts off sunlight, reducing visibility and bringing bone-chilling cold to the city.

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