Day 3: Kashmir Blanketed By Snow, Cut Off From Outside World

   KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar- Kashmir was cut off from rest of the country for the third consecutive day on Tuesday as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar national highway remained closed, while air traffic was suspended due to snowfall across the valley.

Nearly 4500 vehicles, mostly trucks carrying essentials to the valley, are stranded along the highway at various places.

“The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is closed due to accumulation of snow at many places, especially around Jawahar Tunnel,” an official of the traffic control department said.

He said snow clearance operations were in full swing and efforts were on to restore movement of stranded vehicles along the 260 kilometre road.

Mughal Road, which connects the valley to Jammu division through Shopian-Rajouri axis, has been closed for several days due to heavy snowfall in the region.

The flight operations to and from Srinagar remained suspended for third consecutive day, the officials said.

They said that no flight could take off or arrive at the Srinagar international airport due to poor visibility.

The airlines have already cancelled or rescheduled the flights and as per the officials, it was highly unlikely for any operation to take place at the airport in wake of the snowfall.

The officials said south Kashmir’s Kulgam district received highest snowfall with three to four feet of snow accumulated at some places.

Anantnag district has also received heavy snowfall, they said.

The officials said that Srinagar received 8cms of snowfall in the last 24 hours till 0830 hours while Qazigund, the gateway town of Kashmir, recorded the highest depth in the plains across Valley—29.8cms—during the time and 80cms (32inches) in the last 48 hours.

Pahalgam, the famous tourist destination, and Kokernag recorded 18cms and 26cms of fresh snowfall in the 24 hours respectively.

Regarding Gulmarg, the official said that the famous skiing resort accumulated 20cms of fresh snowfall in the last 24 hours while Kupwara recorded 2cms of snowfall. Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and Budgam districts received almost the same snow depth as Srinagar even as higher reaches accumulated around 24-30cms or more fresh snow.

Reports said that several main roads and almost all interior lanes are still clogged with snow even as the divisional administration pressed men and machinery into service in the early hours of the day to clear snow from the roads. The snowfall has also led to disruptions in milk and vegetable supplies to Srinagar.

Meanwhile, the minimum temperature improved in most places in the valley due to the snowfall but still stayed below the freezing point, the officials said.

Srinagar city — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir — recorded a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius — up from the previous night’s minus 0.9 degrees Celsius, they said.

The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 4 degrees Celsius compared to minus 5 degrees Celsius a night earlier.

Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 1.1 degrees Celsius up from minus 6.7 degrees Celsius on the previous night, the officials said.

Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 0.7 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, minus 1.0 degrees Celsius.

The MET Office said moderate to heavy snowfall, with isolated very heavy snowfall, was most likely to take place, especially in south Kashmir, Gulmarg, Banihal-Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri, Kistawar and Zanskar, Drass as well as on the higher reaches of Ladakh UT, over next 24 hours.

Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.

The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.

While ‘Chillai-Kalan’ which began on December 21 — will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).  (with PTI inputs)

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