Fresh Snowfall Blocks Highway, Dips Mercury

 Snow Land: A man walks along the deserted banks of Dal side waters near Dalgate | KO Photo- Abid Bhat

Srinagar: Parts of Kashmir Valley on Saturday received fresh snowfall leading to the closure of strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway, disrupting flight operations and leading to a drop in minimum temperature, officials said.

The fresh snowfall began early in the morning, they said.

The valley had received snowfall for four consecutive days earlier in the week, draping everything in white.

The officials said Srinagar recorded four inches of snow till 8.30 am.

In south Kashmir, Kulgam recorded five inches of snow, Anantnag three, Shopian three and Pulwama four. Bandipora, in the north, received two inches of snow and central Kashmir's Budgam and Ganderbal districts recorded three inches each, the officials said.

There were no reports of snowfall at the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir, and Pahalgam tourist resort in the south, the officials added.

Some other areas in the valley received rainfall, they said.

The MeT Office had forecast very light rains or snowfall at isolated places in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, even as it had said there was no forecast of any major snowfall and the weather was likely to stay mainly dry till January 14.

The fresh snowfall affected the air traffic to and fro the Kashmir valley as several flights were cancelled in the morning.

The Srinagar-Jammu national highway remained closed for traffic on the seventh day on Saturday, the officials said.

They said the 260 kilometre-long highway -- the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country -- was blocked by the accumulation of snow and landslides and shooting stones due to the heavy snowfall earlier this week.

The officials said while the highway was cleared on Friday and stranded traffic was allowed, no fresh vehicle movement has been allowed yet.

The Mughal Road -- the alternate road-link which connects the valley to the Jammu division through Shopian-Rajouri axis was closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall in the region, the officials said.

The MeT Office said the minimum temperature went down across the valley.

Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 4.0 degrees Celsius -- down from minus 0.4 degrees Celsius the previous night, the officials said.

The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 10.0 degrees Celsius -- same as the night earlier.

Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 5.1 degrees Celsius -- down from minus 3.3 degrees Celsius.

Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 5.4 degrees Celsius and Kokernag minus 4.5 degrees Celsius.

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) following it.

Air Traffic Disrupted At Srinagar Airport

Meanwhile air traffic to and from Kashmir was affected on Saturday as several flights were cancelled due to fresh snowfall in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley.

Snow accumulated on the runway of the Srinagar airport which hampered the flight operations in the morning, officials at the airport said.

They said that several flights were cancelled in the morning, while many others were delayed due to bad weather and poor visibility.

However, later in the evening air traffic was restored after the runway was cleared off the snow.

"The flight operations resumed at the airport late afternoon and many flights arrived and then departed from here," an official said.

He said air traffic was restored after weather improved in Kashmir valley and the runway at the airport was cleared off the snow.

He said that 21 flights were cancelled, while only six arrived or departed from the airport.

Air traffic to and from the valley was restored on Thursday after remaining suspended for four days in the wake of heavy snowfall which began on Sunday. (With PTI Inputs)

 

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