Kashmir Valley Reels Under Cold Wave

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A vendor sells firepots (Kangri) on a road side during a cold day in Srinagar. Photo: Abid Bhat / KO

SRINAGAR – Ahead of another spell of moderate to heavy snowfall from Saturday onwards, chilly weather conditions have intensified as the mercury witnessed a nosedive due to open skies and settled several degrees below freezing point at most places in Kashmir valley on Thursday.

However, there was some improvement in the day temperature as the sun played hide and seek though ice cold winds continued in the valley.

A Met department spokesperson said that the weather will be mainly dry during the next 48 hours in Kashmir, resulting in further dip in the night temperature though the mercury during the day could settle above normal due to sunshine.

However, he said a fresh Western Disturbance (WD), which originated from the Arabian Sea and is approaching the region through Afghanistan and Pakistan, will hit the region on Saturday.

“Due to the system created because of the WD, heavy snow would occur at isolated to some places on Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

He said during this time fairly widespread to widespread light to moderate snow would occur in the valley, resulting in dip in the maximum temperature.

Drass was the coldest place in the region after the mercury dipped about 17 degree from Wednesday and settled at minus 27.4 degree, followed by Leh, where the night temperature settled at minus 11.6 degree.

After witnessing a dip of about 3 degree from Wednesday, people woke up to a chilly Thursday morning in the summer capital, Srinagar. However, as the day progressed, sun played hide and seek though ice cold winds continued in Srinagar, where people could be seen wearing warm clothes, including jackets, to evade chilly weather condition. Burning of wood on roadsides by mechanics and auto-drivers is a common sight in the city, where the night temperature dipped and settled at minus 3 degree, against minus 0.4 degree recorded on Wednesday.

The spokesperson said the skies will be mainly clear to partly cloudy during the next 24 hours in Srinagar, where the maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 8 degree and minus 4 degree, respectively.

The night temperature at world famous ski resort of Gulmarg, where ski slopes are covered under several feet of snow, dipped about 6 degree from Wednesday and settled minus 13.6 degree, which is several degree below normal. Sun played hide and seek though ice cold winds continued in Gulmarg, where tourists, including adventure lovers, were out on the ski slopes enjoying different snow related activities.

The mercury at would famous health resort of Pahalgam, about 100 km from here in south Kashmir, dipped about 11 degrees from Wednesday and settled at minus 13.7 degree, making it the coldest place in the valley.

Kupwara in north Kashmir, tourist resort of Kokernag and Qazigund, gateway to the valley, also witnessed a dip in the night temperature, which settled at minus 6.1 degree, minus 6.2 degree and minus 4.4 degree, respectively.

Kashmir Highway Reopens For One-Way Traffic

The Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only all weather road connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, reopened for one-way on Thursday after remaining closed for two days.

“Today traffic was allowed from Jammu to Srinagar only and no vehicle from opposite direction plied on highway”, a traffic police official said.

However, traffic on the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh highway, the only road connecting Union Territory (UT) Ladakh with Kashmir valley, remained suspended for the past one month on Thursday due to accumulation of over five feet snow and slippery condition.

After Ladakh become UT it was decided to keep the Zojila pass, the most trouble spot on Srinagar-Leh highway open throughout the year. However, due to heavy snowfall and threat of avalanches and slippery road conditions due to below freezing temperature, the highway remained closed.

The historic 86-km-long Mughal road, connecting Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region, and Anantnag-Kishtwar road also remained closed for the past 30 days. There is no possibility of reopening of the road before April-May.

Traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway was suspended for the second consecutive day on Wednesday following fresh landslides. Even though there was no fresh snowfall and rain since on Tuesday, there were fresh landslides and shooting stones at several places.

However, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) put into service sophisticated machines and cleared the landslides and snow last evening, when stranded vehicles were allowed to move towards Kashmir.

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