Lahore - The Punjab government on Monday announced extending winter vacations until January 6 in governmental institutions of the province, said a notification. According to Punjab Education Minister Murad Ras, the schools will remain closed because of harsh weather across the province. Earlier, the institutions were scheduled to be closed till January 3, 2019. Experts have forecast rainfall of varying intensities with snowfall over the hills for parts of the country including Lahore during the next couple of days. The wet spell is likely to give much needed respite from the prevailing foggy conditions.

As per the experts, westerly wave prevailing over western parts of the country is likely to grip upper parts during next two days. Rain with snowfall over the hills is expected at scattered places in Quetta, Zhob, Kohat, Malakand, Hazara divisions, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir on Tuesday/Wednesday. Light rain is also expected at isolated places in Peshawar, Mardan, Bannu, DI Khan, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Lahore, Rawalpindi divisions and Islamabad during the period.

More rain with snowfall over the hills is expected at scattered places in Malakand, Hazara Rawalpindi divisions, Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir and at isolated places in Peshawar, Kohat, Mardan, Bannu, DI Khan, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Lahore divisions from Friday to Sunday.

Meanwhile, plains of the country including Lahore remained in the grip of severe cold wave and dense fog on Monday, disturbing routine life by affecting all modes of transportations including road, rail and air. Severe cold and the resultant excessive usage of heaters at offices and homes led to low gas pressure in major cities including Lahore.

The fog started falling in the evening and become so dense at mid night that visibility reduced to zero in open areas. Dense to moderate fog hampered vehicular movement on important intercity roads including Motorway and National Highway. Less visibility forced closure of portions of Motorway at around midnight, leaving motorists with no option except to use alternative routes including National Highway. The situation was the same at almost the entire National Highway. Less visibility caused the vehicles to move at a snail’s pace.

Dense fog affected normal flight operation at Allama Iqbal International Airport besides disturbing schedule of Pakistan Railways. Almost all trains reached their respective destinations hours beyond the scheduled time.

Lesser period of sunshine due to dense fog and snowfall over the hills helped maintaining the mercury to a low level, making weather chilly during the day and at nighttime.

Skardu remained coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 10 degree Celsius below freezing point. Minimum temperature in Gupis was recorded -09C, Astore -06C, Kalam -05C, Bagrote and Gilgit -03C, Malamjabba, Parachniar, Hunza, Chitral and Rawalakot -02C, Lower Dir, Murree, Kalat, Zhob, Garidupatta and Quetta -01C. Minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 03C.

Excessive usage of heaters in the offices and at home led to low gas pressure in major cities including Lahore. In certain areas, women faced huge difficulties in cooking meals for their families.