Snowfall Grounds 40 Flights At Srinagar Airport

KO Photo By Abid Bhat

Significant Improvement In Weather From Today: MeT

Srinagar- All scheduled flights were cancelled on Saturday due to heavy snowfall that reduced visibility at the airport here, snapping air link between Kashmir and rest of the country, officials said.

The snowfall, which started late in the afternoon on Friday, continued through the day at most places in the Kashmir valley, they said.

“All the 40 flights scheduled to operate at the Srinagar airport had to be cancelled due to snowfall,” an official of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) said.

He said that snowfall had reduced visibility to less than 600 metres at the airport.

Problems related to low visibility will be addressed soon as an upgraded instrument landing system (ILS) will be installed at the airport by November this year, the official said.

“The installation of the CAT-II ILS will begin in April 2022 and will be completed by November 2022. Hopefully, we will not face these difficulties next year,” he added.

The official advised passengers to reschedule their flights, which, he said, will be done by airlines free of cost. “The passengers are entitled to full refund if they decide to cancel their journey,” he said.

The air traffic to and from Kashmir has been badly affected over the past few days with a large number of flights getting cancelled due to poor visibility.

Banihal Highway Closed

The strategic Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained closed due to snowfall and landslides at several places, leaving hundreds of commuters stranded, officials said.

The train service between the 136-km Banihal-Baramulla Section was also suspended due to the inclement weather conditions, the officials said.

Senior Superintendent of Police, traffic, Shabir Ahmad Malik said the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained closed since Friday afternoon due to heavy snowfall in Banihal sector and multiple landslides in Ramban district.

The traffic on the highway was restored early Friday after remaining suspended for the past two days due to the inclement weather. However, it was again suspended in the afternoon due to continuous snowfall and rains that triggered landslides at nearly half a dozen places including Karol, Maroog, Moum Passi and digdole.

“About 50 light motor vehicles (LMVs) were left stranded due to the closure of the highway. A number of trucks also remained stranded while some 300 trucks carrying essential supplies to Kashmir including fuel and fresh vegetables were cleared,” Malik said.

The officials said the stranded passengers including a group of 26 tourists from Gujarat were shifted to community halls in Ramban sector and were provided all necessary assistance including food and blankets during the night.

According to the officials, the highway shall remain closed for traffic on Sunday

“Tomorrow Vehicular movement on Jammu-Srinagar highway will remain suspended as the heavy rains and snowfall has triggered large-scale shooting stones activity, landslides and slipper road conditions on the (thoroughfare). The highway is blocked at many places,” a traffic department official said.

He said that people are advised not to undertake any journey on the highway till the restoration work is completed and the surface is traffic worthy. The traffic plied on Friday before a fresh weather system to its closure again.

Due to the heavy snowfall in the valley, the officials said the train service between Banihal and Baramulla sector was suspended as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident.

Snowfall ranging between a few inches to over five feet was recorded in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir, while Jammu city and other plains were lashed by heavy rains during the past 24 hours, the officials said.

The hilly areas of Jammu including Kishtwar, Bhaderwah, Doda, Reasi, Poonch and Rajouri experienced major snowfall, disrupting normal life, the officials said.

They said the traffic on the Jammu-Poonch highway was also suspended due to heavy snowfall in several areas in the twin border belts of Poonch and Rajouri.

Head constable Abdul Rashid was injured when an official vehicle of a police officer rolled down into a gorge at Patnitop in Udhampur district Friday evening, the officials said, adding the injured was hospitalised.

The Patnitop hill resort, a star attraction for tourists visiting Jammu region during winters, recorded nearly one feet of snow, the officials said.

Weather improves

Srinagar recorded the minimum temperature of 0.2 degrees Celsius last night, the officials said.

They said Gulmarg skiing resort in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius, while Pahalgam recorded a low of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius.

Qazigund recorded the minimum of zero degrees Celsius, while the nearby south Kashmir town of Kokernag recorded a low of minus 0.9 degrees Celsius, the officials said.

The mercury in Kupwara in north Kashmir settled at a low of zero degrees Celsius.

The meteorological office has said significant improvement in weather is likely from Sunday morning, after which it is likely to stay mainly dry over the next few days.

The Kashmir valley is currently under the grip of the 40-day harshest winter period known as ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ which began on December 21.

‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ is a 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 to very heavy snowfall.

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