ISLAMABAD/QUETTA/LAHORE/PESHAWAR Parts of the country received heavy to light rain and snowfall on Wednesday accompanied by chilly winds which brought temperature considerably down. The Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) has forecast more downpour in Balochistan, Punjab and northern areas.The PMD said Quetta, Kalat, Chaman, Ziarat, Mastung and other parts of Balochistan also experienced one feet of snow causing traffic chaos on highways.Four to six inches of snowfall was recorded in Mansehra, Battagram, Swat, Kaghan and other parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, besides Neelum valley of the Kashmir region. Light rain brought more chill in Islamabad and Rawalpindi as well. Mercury further plunged in Karachi where drizzling is expected during the next 24 hours as fog and cold intensified. Minimum temperature was recorded 8 degrees Celsius in Karachi.Experts have predicted increase in the intensity of cold wave in plains of the country during the next 2-3 days. Biting cold forced the people to stay indoors wrapped in woolies and blankets, decreasing traffic on otherwise busy arteries in major cities including Lahore. Large scale loadshedding and low gas pressure added to the woes of cold stricken people. Gas pressure was so low that women faced huge difficulties in cooking meals for their families.Besides severe cold, fog in plains added to the winter woes of people by reducing visibility in the morning and late at night. The police have advised motorists to use fog lights, switch on heaters, keep wipers in working condition and drive at slow speed. Skardu remained coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 12 degree Celsius below freezing point. Mercury dropped to -11 C in Astore, -09 C in Parachinar, -08 C in Gupis and Hunza, -07 C in Malamjabba and -05 C in Rawalakot and Drosh. Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 15 C and 04 C respectively. Relative humidity in the morning was recorded 78 per cent which decreased to 48 per cent in the evening.According to the PMD, rain with snowfall is expected over the hills at scattered places in Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan, Malakand, Hazara, Peshawar and Kohat divisions. Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Quetta, Zhob and Kalat divisions are also likely to receive rain. Cloudy weather conditions will prevail in upper and central parts of the country, whereas cold and dry weather is expected elsewhere in the country.The provincial capital and some other parts of Balochistan on Wednesday received rain and snowfall dropping the mercury level further.The Pakistan Meteorological Department had predicted snowfall and rain in Quetta and some other parts of Balochistan on Tuesday.Quetta and its surrounding areas received snowfall that started early in the morning and continued till afternoon.The snow covered Quetta city, its suburbs and mountains with white blanket presenting a scenic view. Youngsters and families thronged Hina Lake and other open places to enjoy the weather.As per reports from other parts of Balochistan, Kalat and its adjoining areas including Harbohi where juniper forests are located received heavy snowfall. Ziarat, Chaman, Muslim Bagh, Kan Materzai and other northern areas were also blanketed with white snow.Owing to snowfall in Kojak Pass motorists faced difficulties to reach their destination as the highway connecting Quetta with Chaman border remained covered with snow at different places.Similarly, different southern and western parts of Balochistan, including Kachhi, Nushki, Dalbandin, Kharan, Khuzdar received rain.Experts say the snowfall and rain would be beneficial not only for environment but also for agriculture sector especially for the crops of wheat, cumin and apple orchards.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 09-Jan-2014 here.