LAHORE - Blanketed by dense fog , plains of the country remained in the grip of cold wave on Thursday with experts predicting further increase in the intensity.
Experts see increase in intensity of cold wave from Saturday as a rain approaches the country. Under the influence of this Khyber PK, Islamabad, upper Punjab (Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sargodha, Faisalabad and Sahiwal divisions) and Kashmir are likely to receive widespread rains with snowfall over the hills from Saturday to Monday. Three to four good winter rains are expected during February. 
In plains, dense fog brought life to a standstill as low visibility caused delay in arrival and departure of international and domestic flights, disturbed schedule of trains and hampered vehicular movement on inter and intra city roads. In certain areas, visibility reduced to zero, adding to winter woes of motorists.  Police have advised motorists to drive at a slow speed, switch on fog lights, use heaters and keep wipers in working conditions. Experts are seeing gradual decrease in the intensity of fog after the next couple of days.
Skardu remained coldest place in the country where mercury dropped to 14 degree Celsius below freezing point. Mercury dropped to – 09C in Astore, -06C in Gupis, -05C in Hunza, -04C in Parachinar and Kalat, -03C in Gilgit, -02C in Kalam, -01C in Chitral and Rawalakot.
Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 21 C and 07 C respectively. Relative humidity in the morning was recorded 100 per cent which decreased to 72 per cent in the evening. .
According to the experts, continental air prevails over most parts of the country. A fresh westerly wave is likely to approach Balochistan on Friday (evening/night).
Local meteorological department has forecast mainly cold and dry weather for most parts of the country during the next couple of days. However, cloudy weather conditions with rain (snow over the hills) is expected at isolated places in Quetta, Zhob, Malakand, Hazara divisions and Gilgit-Baltistan. The intensity of existing fog in plain areas Punjab is expected to reduce after couple of days.
EPD initiates recruitment
Environment Protection Department has started the process of recruitment for BPS 1 to BPS 14 posts.
This was informed at a meeting held on Thursday with Minister for Environment Protection Col (r) Shuja Khanzada in the chair. Vacant posts of filed assistants and lab assistants (BPS 6) will be filled through National Testing Service (NTS). 
The minister said that the department would ensure transparency and merit and no political inference would be tolerated. He said that candidates have been short listed to fill 40 to 50 vacant posts and they would be called soon for interviews.
He said that government was serious to make the department more operational for tackling environmental issues.