SRINAGAR: Snowfall began in earnest in Kashmirs summer capital on Thursday evening after an overnight change in weather brought sleet and rain across the Valley where night temperatures rose markedly with the precipitation.
Even as reports spoke of rain and snow picking up in outlying districts since afternoon, the meteorological department has forecast moderate to heavy snowfall over much of the region in the coming twenty-four hours.
The Srinagar-Jammu highway has been closed for traffic, and the divisional disaster management cell here issued avalanche warnings for higher reaches.
Only some Valley-bound vehicles which had crossed the Nagrota area near Jammu at 8 this morning were allowed through today, a spokesman of the traffic department said.
With fresh rain and snow, the icy grip on Kashmirs winter nights has relaxed over the past two days, as mercury rose above zero in places reeling under minus four to five degrees previously.
According to the weather bureau, the minimum temperature in Srinagar on Wednesday night was 0.8 degrees, and 1.4 degrees in Pahalgam a rise of nearly 4 notches since the previous night.
At the ski resort of Gulmarg in North Kashmir, the minimum temperature was reported to have stood at 5.6 degrees Celsius, 1.1 degree above that recorded the previous night.
In Kokernag, the minimum temperature jumped from minus 1.7 degrees the previous night to 0.3 degrees on Wednesday night.
The northern frontier district of Kupwara, however, reported a drop in minimum temperature, but mercury stood fractionally above the freezing point at 0.3 degrees.
In the south, snowfall was on in the higher reaches of the Kulgam district, with some areas reported to be under a fresh one-foot deep layer of white.
The Zoji La on the closed Srinagar-Kargil highway had received 2.5 feet of fresh snow, and Sonamarg lower down nearly one foot.
The hilly areas of the Kupwara district in the north, like Keran, Sadhna Top, Kralpora, Vilgam, Machil, Bangus Valley, and Farkian Top had received over one foot of fresh snow when reports last came in.
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