Himachal Pradesh's capital saw its warmest February day in 17 years on Saturday at 23.2 degrees Celsius, a Met official said, blaming the abnormally high temperatures on lack of precipitation.

The previous high of Shimla was 22.6 degrees on February 19, 2006.

At 23.2 degrees on Saturday, it was 11.4 degrees higher than the average.

The day's temperature in Shimla on Sunday was 21.6 degrees, whereas the minimum was 14 degrees, 10.6 degrees above the average.

A day earlier, Shimla recorded its highest-ever minimum temperature for the month at 14.4 degrees. The previous high was 14.2 degrees Celsius on February 23, 2015.

However, the Met office predicted thunderstorms and lightning likely at isolated places in the state over mid hills on Monday.

This is for the first time in many years that the 'Queen of Hills', as Shimla was fondly called by the British, is almost bereft of snow cover and parched too.

Shimla's Mount Jakhu (the highest peak in the town) received mild snowfall this season, while commercial centre Mall Road, the historic Ridge and the US Club are yet to get snow cover.

However, even in the Jakhu area, the snow melted within a few hours.

Under the guise of climate "skepticism", most of the locals narrate the tale of indiscriminate construction that has turned the summer retreat of the then British rulers into a concrete jungle in the past few decades.

To highlight that climate change is already having visible effects on Shimla's precipitation patterns, old-timers have shared their photos posing with a cone of ice-cream in the backdrop of the British-era Christ Church on social media.

Hospitality industry representatives are worried about their businesses. They say lack of snow can impact tourism as the town draws a large number of holiday-makers from across northern India.

According to the Meteorological Centre, Shimla saw 102.4 cm of snowfall in eight days in January 2022, while there was no snow in January 2021. This year Shimla saw just scanty snow of 6 cm on January 13, while there was no snowfall in December 2022.