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Deadly Indian Winter: Earth Image of the Week January 21, 2011
Satellite Image of India
The brutal frosts of northern India were in stark contrast to the monsoon rains that drenched Sri Lanka.
The Indian subcontinent has experienced extremes of weather since the first of the year, with fatal consequences in some areas.

Northern parts have been chilled by a deadly cold wave that prompted officials to distribute blankets and firewood to those in the usually temperate region who were without adequate shelter.

The cold even reached the city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, where the mercury plunged to only one degree above freezing.

In the image to the right, taken by NASA’s Terra satellite on January 14, 2010, a dense haze can be seen stretching from the foothills of the Himalayas southward into the metropolitan areas of New Delhi, Lucknow, Patra and Kolkata.

The haze was due to a combination of cold-weather fog thinning during the daytime, the burning of wood and other fuels to battle the chill and farmers setting agricultural burns typical of the season.

The resulting reduced visibility caused extensive disruption to rail, road and air transportation across the region over the past three weeks.

To the south, bands of heavy rainfall can be seen drenching Sri Lanka. A flood disaster on the island nation forced as many as 325,000 from their homes and sent victims storming government offices in the hardest-hit areas to demand food and other aid.

Heavy rains triggered by an intense La Niña ocean-cooling in the Pacific brought the floods, which killed at least 40 people and threatened Sri Lanka’s staple rice crop.

Full story and image: NASA