LAHORE - Plains of the country including Lahore remained in the grip of cold wave on Saturday with experts predicting the prevailing harsh conditions to persist during the next couple of days.

Besides biting cold, dense fog disturbed normal routine by disrupting rail and air traffic besides hampering vehicular movement on major inter and intra city routes including Motorway and National Highway from midnight to 10 in the morning. Less visibility caused delay in arrival and departure of international and domestic flights. Dense fog disturbed rail traffic and almost all trains reached to their respective destinations hours behind the scheduled time.

After a brief period of sunshine at noon, fog started falling in the evening and became so dense at midnight that the visibility reduced to zero in open areas. Lack of sunshine, snowfall over the hills and winds helped maintaining the mercury to a low level, making weather chilly during the day and at night. Low gas pressure and large scale loadshedding added to the woes of heat stricken people. In parts of Lahore, women faced huge difficulties in cooking meal for their families.

Shardu remained the coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 10 degree Celsius below the freezing point. Minimum temperature in Parachinar was recorded -09c; Gupis and Astore -06c; Hunza and Gilgit -05c; Dir and Malam Jabba -04c; Kalam -03c; Kalat, Rawalakot and Drosh -02c; Risalpur, Chitral and Lower Dir -01c.

Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 14c and 05c respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 77 per cent.

According to the experts, a fresh western disturbance is likely to affect upper parts of the country from Monday and will persist in following couple of days. The local meteorological department has forecast cold and dry weather for most parts of the country including Lahore during the next couple of days. However, rain with snow over hills is expected at few places of Quetta, Zhob, Malkand divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Foggy conditions are likely to continue over plain areas of Punjab and upper Sindh during night and morning hours. The intensity of fog is likely to decrease in plains of the country during the next week.