Mercury Drops Across Kashmir, Snowfall Likely

Photo: Abid Bhat / KO

SRINAGAR - A day after some respite, the minimum temperature across the valley dropped again with the MeT department predicting a spell of moderate to heavy snowfall in Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh from Wednesday onwards.

However, there was improvement in the night temperature in Ladakh Union territory, an official of the Meteorological department here said.

"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 4, the official said.

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

Srinagar city recorded the low of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius on Tuesday night down from minus 3.2 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said.

The official said the ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir was the coldest place in the valley with a low of minus 11.0 degrees Celsius last night nearly four degrees down from the previous night's minus 7.2 degrees Celsius.

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 6.9 degrees Celsius down from minus 5.3 degrees Celsius yesterday, he said.

The official said Qazigund the gateway town to the valley - in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 6.5 degrees Celsius lower than the previous night's minus 4.8 degrees Celsius.

Kokernag town, also in south, recorded a low of minus 4.8 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in north, registered the minimum of minus 4.3 degrees Celsius, the official said.

He said Leh town, in the Ladakh Union territory, recorded a low of minus 13.7 degrees Celsius up from the previous night's minus 15.4 degrees Celsius.

The mercury in the nearby Drass town settled at a low of minus 17.0 degrees Celsius over five degrees up from minus 22.6 degrees Celsius on Tuesday.

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.

'Chillai-Kalan', the 40-day harshest period of winter when chances of snowfall are most frequent and the temperature drops considerably, ended on Tuesday.

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).

Shooting Stones Halt Traffic On Banihal Highway

The traffic was on Wednesday suspended on Srinagar-Jammu highway, connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, due to shooting stones at several places.

Meanwhile, the Srinagar-Leh national highway, the only road linking Union Territory (UT) Ladakh with Kashmir, and historic 86-km-long Mughal road remained closed due to accumulation of snow and slippery road condition due to below freezing temperature.

“Traffic has been suspended on Kashmir highway as a precautionary measure following shooting stones at Digdol and adjoining areas on the highway on Wednesday afternoon,” a traffic police official said.

He said there were fresh landslides at Digdol late Tuesday night forcing suspension of traffic on Srinagar-Jammu national highway. However, he said, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), responsible for maintenance and widening of the highway, immediately pressed into service sophisticated machines and men and cleared the landslides.

He said traffic was restored after three hours and vehicles were allowed to move towards their respective destinations. “Today traffic was allowed to ply from Srinagar to Jammu, he said. However, he said the vehicular movement was again suspended on the highway due to shooting stones.

“Traffic will be allowed only after getting green signal from the officials deployed in the area,” he added

People in Kashmir valley alleged that due to frequent suspension of traffic on the highway, prices of essentials often witness increase.

Official sources said the 434-km-long national highway, the only road linking UT Ladakh with Kashmir, also remained closed for the past 22 days on Wednesday due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions. “The road has become very slippery due to below freezing temperature, particularly at Zojila pass. There is almost no 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, due to slippery conditions after freezing of snow water, there is also no chance of resumption of traffic on the historic 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.

Advisor Khan Reviews Stock Position In Valley

Advisor to Lieutenant Governor, Farooq Khan, today chaired a meeting of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs (FCS&CA) Department to review the stock and supply position of essential commodities in the Kashmir valley.

The meeting among others was attended by Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, PK Pole; and Director FCS&CA Kashmir, Bashir Ahmad Khan.

The Advisor directed the concerned to give priority to the movement of vehicles from Jammu to Srinagar carrying rations, and other essential commodities.

Director FCS&CA Kashmir informed the meeting that sufficient stock of ration including, LPG and Kerosene is available in Valley as the stock has been already replenished.

The meeting was also told that necessary directions have been passed to all the concerned regarding the movement of supply trucks on priority basis on the Highway.

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