Darjeeling experienced the coldest day of the current winter on Friday with the mercury dipping to 0.5 degrees Celsius.
The India Meteorological Department recorded a minimum temperature of 0.5 degrees Celsius and a maximum temperature of 7 degrees Celsius in Darjeeling town on Friday.
he normal minimum temperature of Darjeeling for January 28 is 1.4 degrees Celsius, while the normal maximum temperature for this date is 10.1 degrees Celsius.
“For the first time this winter, my hands were literally freezing this evening. I had not used hand gloves until today,” said Navin Thapa, managing director of Muscatel Himalayan Resort.
In the past years, Darjeeling’s minimum temperature had touched sub-zero many times.
The minimum temperature in Darjeeling started hovering around 2 degrees Celsius on January 23 before the sudden dip on Friday. There are some tourists in Darjeeling town to enjoy the chill.
The Darjeeling hills received snowfall four times in the current winter with the latest precipitation being recorded on Thursday in areas like Chatakpur above Sonada and above Tonglu in the Sandakphu region.
“Even when we were driving from Siliguri to Darjeeling yesterday (on Thursday), there were a few bouts of light snowfall. Even though the snowfall was very light and the snow did not accumulate at all, the feeling was good and a perfect start to our vacation,” said Abhijoy Chatterjee, a young entrepreneur from Salt Lake, Calcutta.
There were reports of people going to Tonglu in the Sandakphu area on Thursday. All tourist points are closed in the Darjeeling hills.
“Nevertheless, the recent snowfall is ensuring that at least 15-20 Land Rovers leave Manaybhanjyang for the nearby areas even during this partial lockdown period,” said a travel agent in Darjeeling.
More bouts of snowfall are not ruled out.Gangtok recorded a minimum temperature of 1.7 degrees Celsius on Friday and Kalimpong 5.5 degrees Celsius.
“Gangtok is experiencing a slightly more tourist footfall. Tourist points are not closed there and many are going to cold places in North Sikkim and Chhangu Lake,” said a hotelier who has properties both in Gangtok and Darjeeling.
In the past 24 hours, the minimum temperature dipped in most parts of north Bengal, especially in the sub-Himalayan region. While Siliguri recorded a minimum temperature of 6.8 degrees Celsius on Friday, the mercury dipped to 5.6 degrees in Cooch Behar, 7.5 degrees in Jalpaiguri and 10.4 degrees in Balurghat.
Sources in the IMD said there would be severe cold conditions in the hills and also cold conditions in the adjoining foothills.
“Such cold weather conditions are likely to persist for another two-three days. There is also a forecast of rain or thundershowers in Sikkim and also in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts of Bengal. It might also snow in some upper reaches of these hills,” said a weather expert.
There will be shallow to moderate fog in the region, which can reduce visibility, especially in night hours, during this period, he added.