LAHORE - Country remained in the grip of severe cold wave on Friday with experts predicting the prevailing harsh weather conditions to persist during the next couple of days.

Cloudiness, fog in plains and snowfall over the hills increased intensity of cold wave by decreasing the mercury level with frequent outages and low gas pressure adding to the woes of cold stricken people. Parts of the plains witnessed hardly any sunshine due to intense fog and cloudy weather that considerably decreased daytime temperature.

Severe cold caused the people to avoid unnecessarily coming out, decreasing traffic on otherwise busy roads. Excessive usage of heaters at offices and homes led to low gas pressure, causing difficulties for women in cooking meals.

Besides severe cold, dense fog blanketed the plains from late night to early morning, bringing the life to a standstill as low visibility disrupted schedule of flights and trains besides hampering vehicular movement on inter and intra city routes. Fog caused delay in arrival and departure of international and domestic flights during the morning while low visibility also disturbed rail traffic and almost all trains reached to their respective destinations hours behind the scheduled time. Dense fog forced closures of Motorway from Pindi Bhattian to Lahore and Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad, causing difficulties for the motorists who left with no other option except to use alternative routes including National Highway. Dense fog also disturbed vehicular movement on portions of National Highway.  Police have advised motorists to use fog lights and drive at slow speed in the morning and at night.

Parachinar remained coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 11 degree Celsius below the freezing point. Mercury dropped to -10 C in Astore, -09 C in Skardu, -08 C in Gupis, -07 C in Hunza and -05 C in Kalat.

Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 13 C and 04 C respectively. Relative humidity in the morning was recorded 100 per cent which decreased to 87 per cent in the evening.  According to the experts, shallow westerly wave is prevailing over upper parts of the country and likely to move east northeastwards during next 12 to 18 hours. 

Local meteorological department has forecast mostly cloudy weather with light rain (light snowfall over hills) at isolated places of Kashmir, northeast Punjab (Gujranwala, Rawalpindi, Lahore divisions), Hazara and Gilgit-Baltistan during the next 24 hours. Foggy conditions are expected to prevail at scattered places in northeast Punjab (Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and Lahore divisions) during night/morning hours.