Fresh Snowfall Grounds Flights, Blocks Highways in Kashmir

Srinagar streets were clogged with traffic as snowfall threw life haywire- KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar: Many parts of Kashmir, including Srinagar, received fresh snowfall on Saturday, the third time this month, even as the minimum temperatures across the Valley increased due to an overcast sky, officials said.

Earlier, Kashmir had received heavy snowfall for over four days from January 3 and moderate snowfall on January 9.

The ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir received one feet snow, the officials said.

Kupwara, also in the north, received 5.6 cm snow, Qazigund in south Kashmir received about one cm, Pahalgam 19.4cm and Srinagar 11.4 cm, they said.

Reports of snowfall were also received in other areas in the higher reaches of the Valley and Jammu region including on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the officials said.

The highway was closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall around Jawahar tunnel.

In Nagrota, traffic authorities made repeated announcements requesting the drivers to return back saying there were no chances of traffic resuming on the highway. A traffic official assured the travellers that Jammu to Srinagar traffic will be allowed once the highway is thrown open for vehicular movement again.

The snowfall also affected flight operations at Srinagar airport due to the accumulation of snow on the runway, the officials said. No flight landed or took off from the Srinagar airport, they said.

The Meteorological Department here has forecast light to moderate snowfall at scattered to widespread places in the plains of Kashmir and hilly areas of Jammu along with rain and thunder in the plains of Jammu till the forenoon on Sunday.

It said there is a possibility of heavy snowfall at isolated places over the Valley, especially in the higher reaches.

After this, the weather department said, the weather is likely to remain mainly dry till the end of this month.

Meanwhile, the night temperatures increased across the Valley due to the cloudy sky, bringing some relief to residents from the intense cold wave conditions.

The minimum temperature at most places in the Valley last night was above the normal for this time of the season, the officials said.

Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 2.0 degrees Celsius, up from minus 6.1 degrees Celsius the previous night.

The minimum temperature in Gulmarg in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district settled at minus 4.8 degrees Celsius last night, up from minus 6 degrees Celsius the night before.

KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Pahalgam in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius, over five notches up from the previous night’s minus 7.0 degrees Celsius.

The night temperature in Pahalgam was over six notches above the normal for this time of the season.

Qazigund recorded a minimum temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, the official said.

Kupwara recorded a low of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius while Kokernag recorded a low of minus 4.5 degrees Celsius.

Kashmir is currently in the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’, a 40-day period of harshest winter 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 and the water supply lines.

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

KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Hundreds Of Vehicles Stranded On Highway

Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Shamsher Singh said the slippery condition of the road on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel forced the suspension of traffic on the highway around 11 am.

The snowfall started on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel in the early hours of Saturday and so far, around four inches of snow have accumulated on the ground,” he said.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) pressed its men and machines into service to clear the road of snow, but the continuous snowfall and the slippery conditions are hampering their efforts, the officer said, adding that over 100 vehicles had managed to cross the Jawahar Tunnel before the traffic on the highway was suspended.

The closure of the highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, left hundreds of vehicles stranded on the stretch between Udhampur and Banihal.

One-way traffic was allowed from Jammu towards Srinagar as vehicles on the road ply alternatively between the twin capitals of Jammu and Kashmir in view of the ongoing work of the four-lane highway project.

Meanwhile, the traffic police on Saturday announced that no vehicular movement shall be allowed on Jammu-Srinagar highway from either side in view of shooting stones/mudslides at several places, snow accumulation around the Jawahar Tunnel and inclement weather prediction issued by MeT department.

Mughal Road continues to remain closed due to heavy snow accumulation

The snowfall started in the high-altitude areas of the Union Territory on Saturday, while Jammu and other regions in the plains witnessed rainfall.

Flight Operations Halted

Flight operations at Srinagar airport remained suspended on Saturday in the wake of snowfall in the Valley, officials said.

The snowfall began early in the morning.

No flight operations took place at the Srinagar airport today, an official of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said.

He added that the runway at the airport was not available for flight operations due to the accumulation of snow.

It snowed for the most part of the day, so it was not possible to clear the runway for the flight operations, he said.

The official said all flights for the day were cancelled due to the bad weather.

Over 50 flights operate from the Srinagar airport daily.

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