LAHORE - Country remained in the grip of severe cold wave on Saturday, forcing people to stay indoors to avoid exposure to harsh weather conditions.

Experts have predicted decrease in the intensity of prevailing cold wave across the country in couple of days. However, increase in the intensity of fog is expected in plains in morning/nighttime.

Harsh weather conditions 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 plains, fog considerably reduced visibility, hampering vehicular movement on intercity and intra city routes 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.

Astore remained coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 10 degree Celsius below freezing point. Mercury dropped to -08 C in Parachinar, -07 in Skardu, Kalat, Hunza and Gupis, -06 C in Quetta, -05 C in Murree, -03 C in Rawalakot and Dalbandin and -02 C in Gilgit, Garidupatta, Islamabad and Drosh. 

Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 18 C and 01 C respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 40 per cent.

According to the experts, continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country. A shallow westerly trough is affecting northern most parts of the country and expected to move eastward during next 24 to 36 hours.

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 hills) is expected at isolated places of Malakand, Hazara divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan. Foggy conditions are expected to rise at isolated places of plain areas of Punjab, Peshawar and Sukkur divisions in the morning/nighttime.