Season’s First Snow Cuts Off Kashmir

SRINAGAR: With its higher reaches receiving fresh snowfall overnight and the plains the first of the season, the Kashmir Valley’s surface link to the outside world snapped on Friday as authorities closed the Srinagar-Jammu highway for traffic.

Power supply disrupted in the southern and northern districts due to heavy snow fall was mostly restored by afternoon, and road links in outlying areas were being cleared, an official spokesman said, adding that impact on air traffic to Srinagar had been minimal.

According to reports, the Jawahar Tunnel, connecting Qazigund from the Valley side to Banihal in the Pir Panjal ranges, was under two feet of snow on both ends, and a large number of vehicles heading into and out of Kashmir was held up on the highway where snow-clearance operations were on.

Vehicles stuck this side of the tunnel were recalled to Qazigund where about a hundred goods carriers were waiting for the highway to be cleared.  

Plains in the districts outside Srinagar witnesses four to eight inches of snow on the average, while towns higher up were over a foot deep in white.

According to figures from the head of Kashmir’s disaster management cell, Aamir Ali, the zones to receive the heaviest snowfall in were Shopian with around one foot of snow, Sedow upto one-and-a-half foot, Gurez 10 inches, Tulaeil about two feet, Kanzalwan two feet, Gulmarg one-and-a-half foot, Pahalgam six inches and Herpora around one-and-half feet.

Srinagar city, and Baramulla and Bandipur towns were under a two inch think coating of snow on Friday morning, while Kulgam and Pulwama in the South had received three to four inches.    

Overnight snow and intermittent rains during the day inundated some low-lying areas in the summer capital, posing problems for pedestrians, but traffic flow and business activity was unhindered.

According to the head of the disaster management cell, the chief engineer EM&RE, power supply disrupted in the northern and southern districts since last night due to snowfall had been mostly restored.

Around 800 MW of the required 850 MW had been put back on line by 3.30 on Friday afternoon.

Flights to and from Srinagar could not be operated till 11:30 a.m. due to poor visibility, but air traffic resumed thereafter with 14 flights till shortly before 4 p.m. when a GoAir plane had to be held back.   

Traffic authorities said that the Srinagar-Jammu highway was likely to be opened for traffic on Saturday provided the weather improved, and advised travellers to verify the status of the route before undertaking journey.  

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