Snowfall in Kashmir Valley, road, air links snapped

JAMMU: A blanket of snow covered Kashmir on Sunday as most areas received moderate snowfall, cutting the valley’s surface as well as air connection with the rest of the country, officials said.
The snowfall started during the night at most places and early in the morning at few places, the officials said.
They said while some areas in north Kashmir received light snowfall, most areas in central and south Kashmir experienced moderate snowfall.
The higher reaches of the valley experienced moderate to heavy snowfall, the officials said.
As of now, snowfall of same intensity is likely to continue till afternoon and there will be a temporary break till evening, the officials said.
Srinagar received about three to four inches of fresh snowfall, while Qazigund the gateway town to the valley in south Kashmir recorded around nine inches of snowfall, they said.
The officials said Pahalgam tourist resort recorded five to six inches of snow, while Kokernag about nine inches.
The famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir received four inches of fresh snowfall, while the areas around Jawahar Tunnel on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway recorded about ten inches of snowfall, they said.
The fresh snowfall led to the suspension of traffic on the highway.
A Traffic Control Room official said the highway was closed for traffic movement due to heavy snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel.
The snowfall also disrupted the air traffic to and fro Srinagar airport here.
No flight operations have taken place at the airport so far this morning due to accumulation of snow on the runway, an official at the Srinagar Airport told PTI.
He said a decision to operate flights would be taken after the runway is cleared.
The minimum temperature improved across the valley due to the snowfall but still stayed below the freezing point, the officials said.
Srinagar city — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir — recorded a low of minus 1.5 degrees Celsius — up from the previous night’s minus 5.9 degrees Celsius, they said.
The mercury at Gulmarg improved from the previous night’s low of minus 7.5 degrees Celsius to settle at a low of minus 5.0 degrees Celsius on Saturday night.
Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 1.5 degrees Celsius up from minus 8.4 degrees Celsius on the previous night, the officials said.
Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 3.3 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, minus 1.4 degrees Celsius.
The MET Office said moderate to heavy snowfall, with isolated very heavy snowfall, was most likely to take place, especially in south Kashmir, Gulmarg, Banihal-Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri, Kistawar and Zanskar, Drass as well as on the higher reaches of Ladakh UT, over two days from Monday.
Overall, the snowfall will continue from Sunday to Tuesday forenoon with the occasional break.This may lead to the disruption of surface and air transportation, water-logging in plains of Jammu and Srinagar cities, the MET Office said.
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).