JAMMU – The high altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh received light snowfall on Wednesday even as the night temperature continued an upward trend due to overcast conditions across the region, a meteorological department official said.
The department has issued an orange warning for the twin Union Territories for Thursday and Friday, predicting moderate to heavy snowfall and rain under the influence of western disturbance which had hit the region.
“Light snowfall occurred at high altitude areas including the famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir, Pahalgam in south and Sonamarg in central Kashmir,” the official said.
He said the visibility in Kashmir, where all flights to and fro Srinagar airport were cancelled for the past four days due to dense fog, improved slightly and expected to improve further in the coming days.
“The weather is cloudy and foggy in plains of Kashmir and partly cloudy in Jammu and Ladakh. Moderate snow is expected in plains of Kashmir, moderate to heavy snow on higher reaches of Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh mainly during December 12 and 13,” the official said, adding plains in Jammu are likely to receive moderate to heavy rain on December 12 and 13.
Due to overcast conditions, the night temperature across Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh marked an improvement and settled close to the season’s average after hovering several degrees below normal during the past week.
Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, continued to be the coldest place in Ladakh with a low of minus 15.3 degrees Celsius against the previous night’s minus 19.0 degrees Celsius.
Leh recorded an improvement of over two notches in the night temperature which settled at minus 11.5 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature also improved in Srinagar, which was reeling under dense fog and cold wave conditions over the past week, to settle at minus 1.4 degrees Celsius — 0.8 degrees below normal during this part of the season, the official said.
The city had recorded a maximum of 3.2 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, the lowest so far which was seven notches below the season’s average.
The winter capital, Jammu, recorded a near normal night temperature of 9.5 degrees Celsius, the official said, adding the day temperature in the city had marked an improvement on Tuesday and settled at 19.4 degrees Celsius against the previous day’s 16.7 degrees Celsius.
The famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir was the coldest recorded place in the Valley with a low of minus 3.6 degrees Celsius, while it was minus 2.3 in Pahalgam hill resort in south Kashmir, the official said.
Katra, which serves as the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district of the Jammu region, recorded a low of 8.7 degrees Celsius, he said, adding the Bhadarwah township of Doda district was, however, the coldest recorded place in the region with a minimum of 2.8 degrees Celsius.
Fresh Snowfall Closes Srinagar-Leh Highway, Mughal Road.
Fresh snowfall in the high altitude areas on Wednesday forced closure of 434-km strategic Srinagar-Leh highway and Mughal road connecting the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri with south Kashmir’s Shopian district, officials said.
The roads linking the border towns of Gurez in Bandipora district and Karhnah and Tangdhar in Kupwara district were also closed, while the traffic on Jammu-Srinagar highway was restricted to one-way and only Srinagar-bound vehicles were allowed on this highway this morning, the traffic department officials said.
The upper reaches of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh including the famous ski resort of Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonamarg experienced snowfall overnight under the influence of Western Disturbance which hit the region and is likely to remain active till morning of December 14, bring moderate and heavy snowfall and rains especially on Thursday and Friday.
Srinagar-Leh highway, Mughal Road, Bandipora-Gurez and Kupwara-Tangdhar-Karnah roads were closed on Wednesday morning following fresh snowfall at various places along these vital roads, the officials said.
All these roads usually remain closed during winter months due to heavy snowfall.
They said the snowfall is continuing along Sonamarg-Zojilla axis on Srinagar-Leh highway, the only road linking Kashmir with Ladakh, Pir Ki Gali and adjoining areas along Mughal road, Razdan top and Sadna top in north Kashmir’s Bandipora and Kupwara districts.
Srinagar-Leh highway and Mughal roads were cleared for one-way traffic only on December 8 after remaining closed for several weeks following heavy snowfall in November.
The officials said the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only all weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, remain open but the traffic was restricted to one-way.
Only Srinagar-bound vehicles were allowed to move on the highway, they said.
The traffic is playing alternatively on the highway from the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar since December 9, a practice which comes into force during winter to allow smooth passage of vehicles in the wake of the ongoing four-laning project.
The weatherman has issued an orange warning for the twin Union Territories for Thursday and Friday, predicting moderate to heavy snowfall and rain.
The Kashmir administration has deployed 154 snow clearance machines across the Valley.