Cold Wave Intensifies In Kashmir As Mercury Dips Further

 KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar- The minimum temperature at most places in Kashmir dropped further on Saturday as the intense cold Tightened its grip in the Valley, resulting in the freezing of water supply lines and water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake, in several areas.

A thick fog also engulfed many parts of the valley, including the city, in the morning, reducing visibility.

The cold wave conditions intensified as the mercury dropped further during the night and the minimum temperature settled several degrees below the freezing point, a meteorological department official said.

Srinagar city -- the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir -- recorded a low of minus 8.2 degrees Celsius, down from minus 7.6 degrees Celsius the previous night, he said.

The minimum temperature in the city Friday night was over six degrees below the normal for this time of the year, he added.

The city had recorded a low of minus 8.4 degrees Celsius on Thursday, which was the coldest night in Srinagar since 1991.

Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 9.4 degrees Celsius -- down from the previous night's minus 8.6 degrees Celsius.

The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 5.4 degrees Celsius -- slightly up from minus 5.5 degrees Celsius the night earlier.

Qazigund -- the gateway town to the valley recorded a low of minus 10.0 degrees Celsius and was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, the official said.

Kupwara, in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius, while Kokernag, in the south, minus 8.7 degrees Celsius.

The surface of the Dal Lake has frozen due to the bone-chilling cold, prompting authorities to issue an advisory against walking on the ice.

The SDRF and the river police are conducting patrols around the frozen water-body to ensure the safety of the people.

Several other water bodies have also frozen due to the intense cold.

While the weather remained dry across Kashmir, a dense fog engulfed many parts of the valley including the city in the morning, which, however, dissipated later, the official said.

The plunge in the minimum temperature has also resulted in the freezing of water supply pipes.

A thick layer of ice has frozen over several roads in the city and elsewhere in the valley, making it difficult for motorists to drive.

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 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).

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