SRINAGAR – Ahead of fresh snowfall predicted by the weather department from Sunday, major parts of the world famous Dal Lake and other water bodies froze as the Valley continued to reel under cold-wave conditions on Saturday, with the minimum temperature settling several degrees below the freezing point.
A Met department spokesman said this afternoon that a Western Disturbance (WD), originating in Arabian sea has arrived in the region through Afghanistan and Pakistan. The WD will remain active in the Jammu and Kashmir which could result in rain and snowfall during the next 48 hours. The upper reaches could receive fresh snowfall since Saturday evening, he said.
Fresh snowfall due to present system could affect air and surface traffic, he said.
Major portion of the Dal Lake were frozen on Saturday, when summer capital, Srinagar, recorded minus 5 degree, over three notches colder than yesterday when the minimum temperature was minus 1.9 degree. The coldest night of the season was minus 5.6 degree so far.
Parts of the Lake remained frozen due to sever cold as sky was cloudy and icy cold winds also continued. Shikarawalas were finding it difficult to move forward in the interior of the Dal.
The Lake, one of the major tourist attraction in the city, was completely frozen in 1965 when then rulers drove a jeep on the frozen surface of the water body from one to another end. Dal was also frozen in 80s and 90s when children were seen playing cricket and ice hockey and elders, including tourists, taking photograph.
However, the Met department spokesman said, due to cloudy sky, the night temperature would improve ahead of snowfall from tomorrow in Srinagar.
He said moderate rain or snow could occur and the maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 3 degree and minus 2 degree respectively during the next 24 hours in Srinagar.
World famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir district of Baramulla was coldest in the valley at minus 12.6 degree followed by famed health resort of Pahalgam minus11.5 degree minimum temperature. The water level in all water bodies, including river Lidder has dropped as snow, main source of water to water bodies, remained frozen.
Qazigund, gateway of Kashmir on Srinagar-Jammu highway, where only stranded vehicles are allowed to move towards their respective destinations on Saturday, recorded minus 7.6 degree while it was minus 7.7 degree at Kokernag, a tourist spot in south Kashmir.
Kupwara in north Kashmir recorded minus 6.3 degree minimum temperature against yesterdays minus 6.1 degree.
Meanwhile, people continued to shiver in the Union Territory (UT) Ladakh, which remained cut off due to closure of the Srinagar-Leh highway for the past more than a month. All water bodies in the region also remained frozen, badly hitting the power generation in local projects. Border town of Drass remained coldest at minus 29.1 degree and Leh minus 18.2 degree.
He said there could be light snow and the maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 0 degree and minus 12 degree respectively in Leh during the next 24 hours.
1200 Vehicles Stranded On Banihal Highway
Several thousand vehicles, including those carrying passengers, are stranded on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway due to slippery road conditions coupled with heavy traffic jam, official sources said on Saturday. No fresh vehicle was allowed from Jammu or Srinagar, as only stranded vehicles were allowed to move towards their respective destinations, sources said. They said over 1200 Kashmir bound Heavy Motor
ehicles (HMVs), loaded with diesel, petrol, LPG and other essentials, were stranded on the other side of the Jawahar tunnel. Similarly hundreds of passenger vehicles, which had left Srinagar on Friday, are stranded at Banihal and other areas, they said.
They further said due to below freezing temperature, the road between Jawahar tunnel-Ramban and Ramsu had become very slippery. HMVs which had stranded for the past two days on the highway were allowed to move towards Kashmir yesterday morning. Large number of vehicles had crossed the tunnel for the valley, they said, adding, however over 1200 HMVs remained stranded as the road had become was very slippery in the afternoon.
The LMV passenger vehicles on way to Jammu were stopped at Banihal and Qazigund, they said, adding it was decided to allow these vehicles only after Kashmir bound HMVs would cross tunnel. But due to slippery road conditions, vehicles were moving in a very low speed, they stated.
Jammu bound passengers alleged that despite one-way, vehicles were allowed from opposite direction also, leading to massive traffic jam.
Hundreds of passengers had to spend their night in vehicles despite below freezing temperature, they added.