Fresh Snowfall Likely In Kashmir Valley From Today

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Tourists rejoice after writing New Year message on snow in the famous Gulmarg valley on Tuesday. Photo: Abid Bhat

SRINAGAR – There was some respite from cold wave conditions for residents of Kashmir as the minimum temperature improved on Tuesday, even as the MET office has forecast snowfall in the valley from Wednesday.

The night temperature across the valley improved last night, providing relief to residents, an official of the Meteorological Department here said.

He said Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 3.2 degrees Celsius last night up over three degrees from minus 6.5 degrees Celsius the previous night.

The official said the ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 7.2 degrees Celsius last night slightly up from the previous night’s minus 7.8 degrees Celsius.

Gulmarg, in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, was the coldest recorded place in the valley, he added.

The night temperature at Pahalgam resort, which also serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 5.3 degrees Celsius nearly five degrees up from minus 10.2 degrees Celsius yesterday, he said.

The official said Qazigund the gateway town to the valley – in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4.8 degrees Celsius up from minus 9.3 degrees Celsius yesterday.

Kokernag town, also in south, recorded a low of minus 3.6 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in north, registered the minimum of minus 3 degrees Celsius, the official said.

He said Leh town, in the Ladakh Union territory, recorded a low of minus 15.4 degrees Celsius up nearly five degrees from the previous night’s minus 20.1 degrees Celsius.

The mercury in the nearby Drass town settled at a low of minus 22.6 degrees Celsius.

Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ – the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.

‘Chillai-Kalan’ began on December 21 and ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).

The MET Office has forecast a spell of moderate to heavy snowfall in the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh from Wednesday.

A spell of moderate snowfall in plains of Kashmir and moderate to heavy snowfall in the hilly areas of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh is likely during January 1 (afternoon) to January 3, the official said.

He said another spell of higher intensity and spatial distribution is most likely during January 6 to 8.

The official said the wet weather could likely cause landslide on Banihal-Ramban axis of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway leading to temporary disruption of surface transportation.

The cloudy weather would also lead to colder days and slightly warmer nights, he added.

Srinagar To Jammu Traffic On Highway Today

Traffic will ply from Srinagar to Jammu on Wednesday on the highway, the only all weather road connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country.

However, only Jammu bound Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) will be allowed to ply on the highway, official sources said.

Sources said keeping in view the condition of the road and weather advisory for fresh snowfall during the next 24 hours, only Srinagar to Jammu traffic will ply on Wednesday. However, no vehicle will be allowed from opposite direction, they said.

Meanwhile, due to slippery conditions after freezing of snow water, there is no chance of resumption of traffic on the historic 86-km-long Mughal and Anantnag-Kishtwar roads during winter.

Traffic on the Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region, was closed on December 11 due to heavy snowfall, particularly at Pir-ki-Gali, they said.

Sources said the 434-km-long national highway, the only road linking Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh with Kashmir, also remained closed for the past 21 days on Tuesday due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions. The road has become very slippery due to below freezing temperature between Sonamarg-Zojila-Zero point-Meenmarg and Drass, the second coldest place in the world after Siberia. There is very bleak chance of reopening of the road during winter, they said.

The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, has already announced closure of the highway for winter months. However, Union Territory (UT) Ladakh administration alleged that they were not consulted before announcing closure of the highway. Meanwhile, people in Kargil, a border town on the highway, alleged that due to early snowfall this year, they could not stock enough stock of essentials.

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