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Night or day, chill plays havoc

- Patna schools to remain closed, plan to arrange bonfires for poor

Patna. Jan. 9: Weather has played a great leveller this winter cutting across continents.

Much of US is in the grip of a polar vortex — the Niagara falls have frozen over — while the prevailing chilly weather conditions in Bihar intensified on Thursday, causing distress to residents.

A polar vortex refers to a system of dense air producing plummeting temperatures and swathes of freezing weather.

The minimum temperature in the state capital plummeted from 7.3ļC on Wednesday to 7ļC on Thursday, the lowest of the season so far. Event the day’s maximum stood at 18ļC. But Gaya held on to its position as the cold champ of the state with a minimum of 4.3ļC against Wednesday’s 5ļC.

Temperatures in several districts, including Purnea, Katihar, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur and Chhapra, dipped three to four degrees below normal. (See graphic)

Dense fog reduced visibility to less than 50 metres in Patna and enveloped most districts in north and central Bihar till mid-afternoon. Office-goers would have to brave chilly conditions till the weekend but schoolchildren got a reprieve in the form of extended school holidays in various districts.

Making an announcement, Patna district magistrate N. Saravana Kumar said: “If the conditions remain unchanged after January 12, the administration would extend the closure of schools. We have decided to arrange bonfires and have distributed around 950 blankets among the poor. We have also requested help from banks and NGOs in blanket distribution.”

Markets in Muzaffarpur, the commercial hub of north Bihar, are opening late owing to severe cold. Municipal commissioner Sita Choudhary said the demand for bonfires has started pouring into her office. Conditions were more or less similar in the Gopalganj-Siwan-Chhapra region, where the Sun was not visible till 2pm. In Motihari, markets wore a deserted look. Normal life was crippled in Darbhanga, Madhubani and Samastipur districts as well. The Sun in Purnea, Araria, Kishanganj and Katihar districts is shining for hardly two hours a day over the past couple of days owing to the dense fog cover.

Even the Met office could not offer much hope for the state till the weekend. “A patch of cloud from Madhya Pradesh moving northeast is expected to reach Bihar by Saturday. In such a case, we would issue a statewide alert for day cold conditions,” said Ashish Sen, director, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Patna.

Day cold refers to a condition when the maximum temperature is around eight to 10 degrees Celsius below normal, accompanied by a thick fog cover.

The IMD headquarters in New Delhi issued a warning on Thursday of extreme dense fog at isolated places in the state along with possibility of light rainfall in northeast Bihar over the weekend.