Kashmir receives fresh snowfall
Flights cancelled, highway blocked
Srinagar: Many parts of Kashmir, including Srinagar, received fresh snowfall on Saturday, the third time this month, even as the minimum temperatures across the Valley increased due to an overcast sky, officials said.
Earlier, Kashmir had received heavy snowfall for over four days from January 3 and moderate snowfall on January 9.
The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir received about 10 inches of snow, the officials said.
Kupwara, also in the north, received three inches of snow, Qazigund in south Kashmir received about one cm and Srinagar 0.2 cm, they said.
There are reports of snowfall in other areas in the higher reaches of the Valley and Jammu region including on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the officials said.
The highway was also closed for traffic later, officials said.
Meanwhile, flight operations at Srinagar airport were affected this morning due to the accumulation of snow on the runway, the officials said.
Later the operations at the airport did not resume as there was no letup in the downpour.
“No flight operations have taken place at the Srinagar airport so far this morning,” an official said.
He added that the runway at the airport was not available for flight operations due to the accumulation of snow.
“It is still snowing and hence, it is difficult to clear the runway for flight operations,” the official said.
The Meteorological Department here has forecast light to moderate snowfall at scattered to widespread places in the plains of Kashmir and hilly areas of Jammu along with rain and thunder in the plains of Jammu till the forenoon on Sunday.
It said there is a possibility of heavy snowfall at isolated places over the Valley, especially in the higher reaches.
After this, the weather department said, the weather is likely to remain mainly dry till the end of this month.
Meanwhile, the night temperatures increased across the Valley due to the cloudy sky, bringing some relief to residents from the intense cold wave conditions.
The minimum temperature at most places in the Valley last night was above the normal for this time of the season, the officials said.
Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius, up from minus 6.1 degrees Celsius the previous night.
The minimum temperature in Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district settled at minus 4.8 degrees Celsius last night, up from minus 6 degrees Celsius the night before.
Pahalgam, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath Yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius, over five notches up from the previous night’s minus 7.0 degrees Celsius.
The night temperature in Pahalgam was over six notches above the normal for this time of the season.
Qazigund recorded a minimum temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, the official said.
Kupwara recorded a low of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius while Kokernag recorded a low of minus 4.5 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently in the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’, a 40-day period of harshest winter when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here and the water supply lines.
The chances of snowfall are the maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.
While ‘Chillai-Kalan’ began on December 21 and will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).
Meanwhile, the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir Valley with the outside world, shall remain closed tomorrow (Sunday), officials said.
“On January 25, no vehicular movement shall be allowed on Jammu-Srinagar highway from either side in view of the shooting stones and mudslides at several places on the thoroughfare and snow accumulation around the Jawahar Tunnel and inclement weather prediction issued by MeT department,” a traffic official said.
The strategic thoroughfare was closed for traffic earlier on Saturday following fresh snowfall on either side of the 2.5 kilometer Jawahar Tunnel.
Traffic authorities were heard making announcement, requesting the drivers to return back and “not led people astray.”
“It is my humble request to please return as there are no chances of traffic resuming today.The vehicles which have passed Nagrota are stranded in Chinani, Ramban, Batote and Nasri,” DTI Nagrota, Inspector Rakesh Kumar, was heard making announcement through public address system fitted in the traffic department vehicle.
“Please don’t take any risk. There are chances of (land and snow) slides and as such return home. Whenever highway reopens, there would be traffic from Srinagar to Jammu,” he announced. (with PTI inputs)