LAHORE - Blanketed by thick fog, plains of the country including city remained in the grip of severe cold wave on Monday with experts predicting the harsh weather conditions to persist during the ongoing week.

Dense fog disrupted rail and air traffic besides hampering vehicular movement on major inter and intra city roads including Motorway and National Highway.

Continuously blowing winds, dense fog and the resultant lesser period of sunshine helped maintaining the mercury to a low level during the day and at nighttime. Large scale gas loadshedding and low pressure added to the woes of cold stricken people.

In Lahore, the mercury dropped as low as 2 degree Celsius, making Monday the coldest day of the ongoing week.

After brief period of sunshine at noon, fog started falling in the evening and become so dense that the visibility reduced to zero in open areas. Dense fog and the resultant low visibility caused suspension of flight operation at Lahore, Sialkot, Multan and Faisalabad Airports besides disturbing rail traffic as almost all trains reached to their respective destinations hours behind the scheduled time.

Less visibility hampered vehicular movement on major intercity roads from the evening to 12 at noon. Motorway Police continued to take vehicles in convoys to ease load on National Highway.

Skardu remained the coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 12 C below the freezing point. Minimum temperature in Astore was recorded -09 C, Kalat -08 C, Hunza and Gilgit -07 C, Parachinar, Gupis and Quetta -06 C, Kalam -04 C, Lower Dir, Dalbandin, Zhob and Dir -03 C, Malamjabba, Rawalakot, Bannu and Drosh -02 C, Chitral, Mirkhani, D I Khan, Murree and Saidu Sharif -01 C.  Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 13 C and 02 C respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 87 per cent.

According to the officials, continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country. A shallow westerly trough is affecting northern areas of the country.

The local meteorological department has forecast cold and dry weather for most parts of the country including Lahore during the ongoing week. However, light rain (with light snowfall over the hills) is expected at isolated places in Malakand divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan. Dense foggy conditions will prevail in Gujranwala, Lahore, Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur and Sahiwal divisions and foggy in Sargodha, D G Khan, D I Khan and Sukkur divisions during night and morning hours. Dense foggy conditions are expected on M2 (Lahore to Pindi Bhattian sector) and foggy on M1 (Peshawar to Burhan sector) during night and morning hours.