Mercury Slightly Up In Kashmir; Rain, Snowfall Likely

A fisherman waits for a catch in the frozen Anchar Lake in Srinagar on Thursday. Photo: Abid Bhat / KO

SRINAGAR - There was some respite from cold wave in Kashmir as the minimum temperatures increased slightly across the valley even as the Met department predicted rain and snowfall from Thursday onwards.

The minimum temperature increased on Thursday across the Kashmir valley owing to a cloud cover, an official of the Meteorological department here said.

He said Srinagar city recorded the low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius on Wednesday night up from minus 4.4 degrees Celsius the previous night.

The official said the ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded the low of minus 8.6 degrees Celsius on Wednesday night nearly four degrees up from the previous night's minus 11.0 degrees Celsius.

Gulmarg continued to be 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 6.4 degrees Celsius up from minus 6.9 degrees Celsius, he said.

The official said Qazigund the gateway town to the valley - in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4.3 degrees Celsius up from the previous night's minus 6.5 degrees Celsius.

Kokernag town, also in the south, recorded a low of minus 3.7 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara in the north registered a minimum of minus 3.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.

The data for Ladakh Union territory was not available, he added.

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 department has forecast a spell of moderate to heavy snowfall in the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh from Thursday.

"Light snowfall at many places in the plains of Kashmir, Drass, Zojilla and hilly areas of Jammu and light rains in the plain areas of Jammu is likely to occur from this (Thursday) evening," the official said.

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

The official said the wet weather could likely cause landslide on the 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.

Kashmir Valley Remains Cut-Off

Srinagar: The Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only all weather road connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, remained closed for the second day on Thursday, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded in biting cold.

Meanwhile, the Srinagar-Leh highway, the only road linking Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh with Kashmir and historic 86-km-long Mughal road remained closed for the past 23 days due to accumulation of snow and slippery road condition due to below freezing temperature.

The Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed since yesterday due to fresh landslides and shooting stones at Digal and Chanderkote, a traffic police official said.

He said there were landslides at Digdol late Tuesday night forcing suspension of traffic on the 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 stranded vehicles were allowed to move towards their respective destinations.

He said it was decided to allow one-way traffic from Srinagar to Jammu only on Wednesday. However, there were fresh landslides and shooting stones at Digdol and Chanderkote, he said, adding traffic was again suspended on the highway.

He said due to continued shooting stones at Digdol, road clearance operation was stopped last night. The landslides and shooting stone clearance operation was again resumed this morning, he said.

He said once the landslide clearance operation is over, stranded vehicles will be allowed to move towards their respective destinations. “No fresh vehicle will be allowed from Srinagar and Jammu,” he added.

Meanwhile, drivers and passengers, stranded on this side of the Jawahar tunnel, alleged that traffic police was deliberately harassing people. “We were informed that road is open and we can move towards Jammu,” they said, adding but later we were stopped at Qazigund and other places.

They questioned why traffic police could not inform them in Srinagar about the status of the road. “Passengers, including women, children and elderly persons, are without any food and shelter since yesterday,” they alleged.

However, a senior traffic police official denied the allegations and said allowing traffic movement during shooting stones was dangerous. “Traffic was being suspended as a precautionary measure to avoid any accident,” he said and appealed to people to cooperate.

People are requested to contact Traffic Control Units (TCUs) at Srinagar, Jammu and Ramban. He said only stranded vehicles, particularly between Ramban and Ramsu, will be allowed to move on priority since there is a forecast for more rain and snow during the next 24 hours.

Traffic official said the 434-km-long national highway, the only road linking UT Ladakh with Kashmir, also remained closed for the past 23 days on Thursday due to accumulation of snow and slippery road conditions. The road has become very slippery due to below freezing temperature, particularly at Zojila pass.

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.

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