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Heavy snowfall in Kashmir, Patnitop; NH blocked, 1000 vehicles stranded

All flights to Kashmir cancelled, train services hit

Heavy snowfall in Kashmir, Patnitop; NH blocked, 1000 vehicles stranded

*Valley plunges into darkness, Jammu’s temp falls by 11 degrees
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Fayaz Bukhari/ Gopal Sharma
SRINAGAR/ JAMMU, Jan 6: Kashmir today received fresh snowfall cutting the Valley from rest of the country due to closure of Jammu-Srinagar highway and suspension of air traffic while Trikuta Hills of Katra Mata Vaishnodevi and Patnitop tourist resort  of Jammu region received season’s first snowfall today.
The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway  and Jammu-Batote- Kishtwar road have been closed  due to landslides after rains and heavy snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel and Patnitop while all the flights to Srinagar from Jammu and Delhi were cancelled due to heavy snow at Srinagar airport.
IG Traffic, SA Watali told the Excelsior that over 1000 vehicles including 800 trucks  have been stranded on Jammu-Srinagar National highway between Banihal and Nagrota as the road was blocked due to heavy snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel and Patnitop while continuous rain caused landslides at several places near Ramban and Ramsoo area. The highway was, however, cleared by the authorities but two spots at Mehar and Digdol could not be restored fully. The Jammu bound vehicles stranded in Ramban area were cleared up to Batote.  The Traffic Police authorities have stopped the upward movement of all type of vehicles from Nagrota onwards and ahead of Udhampur for Kashmir and Doda-Kishtwar. The Jammu bound vehicles have also been stopped at Lower Munda  and Qazigund. He said the road was slippery at Patnitop and Jawahar Tunnel area and snowfall continued there. Three feet snow at Jawahar Tunnel and 3-5 inches at Patnitop was reported this evening, the IG said.
Reports from Kashmir said that the normal life was thrown out of gear as snowfall continued intermittently for the fourth consecutive day, cutting of the Valley from rest of the country due to closure of Srinagar-Jammu national highway and cancellation of flights at Srinagar Airport.
The Meteorological Depa-rtment has forecast widespread snowfall or rains over the next two days across Kashmir that may lead to further disruption of air and surface traffic.
The Divisional Administ-ration Kashmir today issued weather advisory according to which higher reaches of the State are likely to receive heavy snowfall and rains during the next 24-hours.
The weather warning says minimum temperatures in all areas of Kashmir Division will remain below the freezing point which may lead to slippery road conditions. “Western Disturbance over J&K is likely to affect the State on January 06-07. There will be moderate to heavy rain and snow in J&K with decreasing rain/snow towards evening in Kashmir on January 06. While as there is forecast of light to moderate rain/snow at few places in the State tomorrow with overall improvement in the weather from Jan. 07 afternoon,” the communiqué from the administration said.
The Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir Division have been asked to take all the precautionary measures in their respective districts.
An official spokesman said that the continuous rain and snowfall disrupted the snow clearance operations along the highway.  He said that the traffic from Srinagar was stopped at Awantipora, Anantnag and Qazigund, the traffic from Jammu towards Srinagar was stopped at Nagrota.
The operations at Srinagar Airport were also suspended and all flights for the day were cancelled due to snowfall.
In Srinagar city and other towns of the Valley, heavy snowfall started this morning, affecting movement of traffic and leading to traffic jams at many places as the roads were rendered slippery.
This is the heaviest snowfall experienced in Valley this year. Authorities failed to respond to the snowfall and no snow clearance was done on Srinagar roads leading to slippery road conditions and traffic jams as the vehicles were plying at snails pace.
The higher reaches in the Kashmir like Keran, Machil, Karnah, Gurez, Shopian, Sonamarg and Gulmarg along with surrounding areas experienced continuous moderate to heavy snowfall for the fourth consecutive day.
Gulmarg recorded 4 feet of snowfall, Tangmarg 2 feet, Kunzar one feet, Chandoosa 16 inches, Boniyar one feet, Bijhama 10 inches, Uri 3 inches, Baramulla one feet and Pattan , six inches. Upper reaches of Sopore received 16 inches of snowfall, Sopore town around one feet, Bandipora town around one feet, Razdhan pass nearly six feet, Gurez 3.6 feet and Bandipora 10 inches. Handwara received 16 inches, Wudar Bala 2.6 feet, Nowgam 3 feet, Bungas 8 feet and Toot Mari Gali (TMG) 7 feet of snowfall. Kupwara received six inches of snowfall, Trehgam around one feet, Kralpora around one feet, Sogam six inches and Lalpora 8 inches, Sadna Top 5.6 feet, Keran one feet, Furkiyan top 5 feet, Z-Gali 4 feet.
The cloudy weather led to increase in night temperatures across the Valley but Srinagar and other area of Valley witnessed coldest day of the season with day temperature plummeting to maximum of 0.6 degree Celsius which is six notches below normal.
Qazigund  recorded 0.7 degree Celsius, Pahalgam 1.0 degree Celsius, Kokernag 4.1 degree Celsius, Kupwara 3.7 degree Celsius, Gulmarg minus 2.5 degree Celsius, Leh 4.6 degree Celsius and Kargil 4.7 degree Celsius as maximum day temperature.
Jammu recorded a maximum of 12.3 degree Celsius, Katra 11.5 degree Celsius, Banihal 2.6 degree Celsius, Batote 5.2 degree Celsius and Bhaderwah 2.5 degree Celsius.
Srinagar registered minimum temperature of 0.1 degree Celsius slightly up from minus 0.3 degree Celsius yesterday.
Gulmarg in North Kashmir registered a low of minus 6.2 degrees Celsius, a degree down from the previous night’s minus 5.2 degrees Celsius. Gulmarg was the coldest places in the Valley.
Qazigund recorded a minimum of 0.6 degrees Celsius, Pahalgam received 1.4 degrees Celsius, Kokernag 0.3 degrees Celsius and Kupwara 0.3 degrees Celsius.
Leh in the frontier region of Ladakh was the coldest recorded place in the state with a low of minus 9.5 degrees Celsius, while the nearby Kargil town registered the minimum temperature of minus 9.0 degrees Celsius.
The snowfall in Kashmir led to major power breakdown as majority of the areas in the Valley are plunged in darkness since last night. The Power Development Department (PDD) has failed to supply power.
Meanwhile,   Jammu-Poonch highway also  remained blocked for several hours at Bhimber Gali during the day due to heavy snowfall but it was cleared by the Army authorities after three hours of operation. The road between Rajouri-Dera Gali and Poonch has also been closed while Mughal Road has experienced heavy snow of the season, resulting into the long blockade.
Official sources said that continuous rain and snowfall in the region since last night has thrown life out of gear. The day temperature in Jammu has shown a sharp fall of nearly 11 degrees. It was 23.7 degree Celsius on Thursday while today it was recorded as 12.3 deg C.  The Jammu recorded 23.8 mm rainfall till 5 pm this evening since morning. More rain and snowfall  is predicted by the weathermen in most of the parts of the region in next 24 hours.
With the first snowfall on Trikuta Hills of Mata Vaishnodevi, Patnitop, Nathatop near Kud, Bhaderwah in district Doda, Banihal in Ramban,  parts of Kishtwar, Dera Gali, Bhimber Gali in Poonch and Rajouri, there has been sharp fall in temperature in the region. Heavy snow fall has also been reported from in Dud-Basantgarh in Udhampur;  Bani,  Loang, Sarthal and higher reaches of Machedi areas of district Kathua. Basohli- Bani-road was  operational till  this evening.
SP Airport RK Bali said that all the Srinagar bound flights were cancelled due to heavy snowfall in Srinagar city and the airport  could not be cleared. He said most of the flights operated between Jammu- Delhi and other destinations and returned. The  Chopper service between Katra base camp and Sanji Chhat( Shrine) also remained affected  due to bad weather. Several trains arrived late by two to four hours today from various destinations to Jammu today while time of several trains was rescheduled.
Meanwhile, after  long wait and numerous hide and seek played by the weather, finally people of Bhaderwah town, much to the delight of their eyes, woke up on Friday morning to experience snowflakes and accumulation of snow around them.
After two days of torrential rains in entire Chinab valley and mild to heavy snowfall in the upper reaches  including, Kailash Mountain Range, Padri Gali,
Bhaal Padri, Braid Baal,Nehyed Chilly and Asha Pati Glacier, Bhadarwah town and it’s surrounding villages received Season’s first proper snowfall ending two years of wait , official said today.
Although common people in general and those associated with Agriculture, Horticulture and Tourism industry in particular were beaming with joy and satisfaction but the early morning snowfall triggered extreme cold wave conditions in Bhadarwah and adjoining Gandoh Valley forcing the dwellers to wear warm clothes and to lit up traditional ‘Bukharies’ (fire place) to keep themselves warm to ward off the extreme chill if fresh snow and cold wave.
Tour operators and guest house owners are also  expecting increased tourist flow after the snowfall as Bhaderwah is the only tourist place in Jammu province which is experiencing snowfall.
“We are expecting good business as there is hardly any or very little snowfall at Patni Top,  and in comparison Bhadarwah Hills including famous Padri meadow on interstate Bhaderwah – Chamba Road and Chattar Gali and Guldanda meadows on Bhaderwah – Basholi Road are already  filled with snow and today’s snowfall is  the shot in the arm we needed,” said a tour operator and Guest house owner Tariq Choudhary adding that Bhaderwah Development Authority (BDA) should go an extra mile to attract the tourist and make maximum of the opportunity this time.


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