LAHORE  - Country remained in the grip of severe cold wave on Friday, disturbing routine life as harsh weather conditions forced the people to stay indoors wrapped in woolies and blankets.

Experts have predicted the prevailing cold wave to persist during the next couple of days with intervention of dense fog in morning/nighttime.

Biting cold forced the people to avoid unnecessarily coming out, decreasing traffic on otherwise busy arteries in major cities including Lahore. Frequent electricity outages 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.

In Lahore, mercury dropped to zero degree Celsius, making Friday the coldest day of current winter. Abundance of sunshine, however, increased the maximum temperature to 22 C. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 22 per cent.

Astore remained coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 13 C below freezing point. Mercury dropped to -09 in Parachinar, Kalat and Hunza -08 C in Gupis, -07 C in Skardu, Quetta, Malamjabba and Gilgit,-06 in  Rawalakot, -05 C in Dalbandin, Kalam and Drosh.

According to the experts, continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country. A shallow westerly trough is affecting upper parts of the country and expected to persist for next 2 to 3 days.

Local meteorological department has forecast cold and dry weather for most parts of the country during the next couple of days. However cloudy weather with light rain (light snowfall over the hills) is expected in Malakand, Hazara, Peshawar, Rawalpindi divisions, Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan. Foggy conditions are expected to rise in plain areas of Punjab, Peshawar and Sukkur divisions during next 2 to 3 days