Kashmir Valley Braces For Fresh Rain, Snowfall

Snowfall in Kashmir ( KO Photo: Abid Bhat )

SRINAGAR - Ahead of fresh spell of rain and snow, sun was out again for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday in the Kashmir valley, where minimum temperature remained sub-zero despite witnessing improvement.

A Met department said a fresh Western Disturbance (WD) is active in the region which could result in isolated rain or snow in the Jammu and Kashmir during the next 24 hours.

Due to cloudy sky the night temperature witnessed surge in the Kashmir valley and Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh region though it was still below freezing point at several places, he said.

People continued to shiver and major water bodies remained frozen in Ladakh region, where Drass remained coldest even after witnessing over 13 degree surge against yesterday.

World famous ski resort of Gulmarg was coldest in the valley though there was over 5 degree improvement in the minimum temperature against yesterday. The minimum temperature at Gulmarg, where all ski slopes are covered under three to five feet of snow, was minus 7.2 degree against yesterdays minus 11.5 degree, he said.

Qazigund, gateway of Kashmir on Srinagar-Jammu national highway, was second coldest at minus 6.7 degree minimum temperature against minus 8 degree recorded on Wednesday.

Tourist resort of Kokernag, also in south Kashmir, recorded minus 5.3 degree minimum temperature against minus 6.4 degree witnessed yesterday.

Pahalgam, which serves as base camp for annual pilgrimage to holy Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas in every summer, also recorded over five degree improvement. The minimum temperature at health resort was minus 4.9 degree against minus 10.3 degree recorded yesterday.

Kupwara, where all roads to border towns of Machil, Keran and Karnah, reopened for traffic after about week of closure due to snowfall, witnessed four degree surge. Against yesterdays minus 6.4 degree, the minimum temperature there was minus 2.2 degree.

Sun was out for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday though the intensity of the heat was low due to icy cold winds coming from surrounding hills which are covered under snow in Srinagar.

However, due to cloudy sky during the night, the minimum temperature witnessed a surge and settled at minus 2.3 degree against minus 3.7 degree on Wednesday, when interior parts of the Dal Lake were frozen.

One-Way Traffic On Kashmir Highway, Leh, Mughal Roads Still Shut

The traffic authorities on Thursday allowed only one-way traffic will on the Banihal highway, connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, as road at several places is still very narrow where only one-vehicle can pass at a time.

Meanwhile, the Srinagar-Leh national highway remained closed for the past nine days on Thursday due to accumulation of several feet of snow and slippery road condition, particularly at Zojila pass.  The authorities recently airlifted hundreds of passengers who were stranded in Ladakh and Srinagar due to closure of the highway.

The historic 86-km-long Mughal road and Anantnag-Kishtwar roads also remained closed due to accumulation of snow for the past nine days, a traffic police official said.

Inspector General of Police Alok Kumar said that road along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, particularly at Mompassi, is very narrow where only one vehicle can pass at a time.

“If any vehicle comes from opposite direction, entire traffic comes to halt badly hitting normal movement of vehicles on the highway”, he said and appealed to people to strictly follow the advisory being issued by the traffic department daily.

Kumar said people are requested to contact Traffic Control Units (TCUs) at Srinagar, Jammu and Ramban before starting journey on the highway.

He said there are also big snow walls on both sides of the 40 km road, particularly between Jawahar tunnel and Banihal, adding this stretch of the road remains slippery in the morning and evening when snow water freezes.

Drivers are requested to drive slowly and avoid applying breaks to due to slippery road conditions on this stretch to avoid accidents.

He said there were no stranded vehicles on the highway between Qazigund to Udhampur.

“We allowed fresh traffic from Jammu to Srinagar. Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) will have to pass Nagrota before 1100 hrs. The Heavy Motor Vehicles (HMVs) will be allowed from 1400 hrs,” he said.

However, reports received here said that there are several thousand HMVs, carrying essentials for Kashmir valley, stranded at Samba and other places in Jammu region for the past about a week.

The Mughal road, linking Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region remained closed for the past nine days on Thursday due to accumulation of snowfall and slippery road conditions.

The snow clearance operation was going on from both sides; he said adding there was several feet of snow accumulated at several places on the Mughal road. Traffic on the road was allowed recently after remaining suspended since November 6 when there was heavy snowfall.

The road, which is also seen as alternative to Srinagar-Jammu highway, remained closed during winter months due to about ten feet of snow and avalanches every year.

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