Fresh snowfall brings respite from cold; disrupts air, road traffic

Tourists enjoying snowfall in Srinagar on Saturday. -Excelsior/ Shakeel
Tourists enjoying snowfall in Srinagar on Saturday. -Excelsior/ Shakeel

Temp drops in Jammu region

Fayaz Bukhari / Gopal Sharma
Srinagar/jammu, Jan 23: Kashmir today received fresh snowfall bringing respite to the people from extreme cold weather conditions but adding to the people’s woes by disrupting the air and surface traffic.

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Gulmarg recorded 1.5 feet of snow, Tangmarg 10 inches, Baramulla town 5 inches, Sopore town 5 inches, Sadna Top in Kupwara district 3 feet, Karnah 1.6 feet, Farkiyan 2 feet, Keran one foot, Z-Gali 1.25 feet, Machil 8 inches, Kupwara between one to two feet, Trehgam two feet, Kralpora 8 inches, Sogam and Lalpora 3 inches, Srinagar 4 inches, Budgam 5 inches, Shopian six inches, Kulgam six inches, Ganderbal 2 inches and Anantnag 2 inches.
The fresh snowfall led to the cancellation of all flights to and from Srinagar Airport. There was huge rush at the airport.
The snowfall at Jawahar Tunnel area led to closure of Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. No vehicles were allowed to move on the highway today after the intensity of snowfall increased.
An official said that the Traffic will also remain suspended tomorrow as well.
The fresh snowfall has badly affected life in Srinagar where many roads saw the accumulation of snow and slippery conditions of roads. Massive traffic jams across the city were also witnessed today and it took hours for people to reach their destinations.
However, snow was being cleared from the main roads in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir but there were slippery conditions due to continuous snowfall till this evening.
Many ambulances were also seen slipping on roads because of snow accumulation which prevented many patients from reaching the hospitals on time.
“Due to slippery conditions, vehicles were unable to ply on the roads. Had snow been cleared on time things would have been different, we are not witnessing snow for the first time”, said an irked commuter.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate Uri and his PSOs had a miraculous escape today in Boniyar area of Uri in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
SDM Uri Reyaz Ahmad Malik along with his PSOs were on way to Boniyar in his official Scorpio vehicle bearing registration number JKO5H 2000 when a shooting stone came down from the mountain due to snowfall in the area. The SDM was in the vehicle at the time of the incident.
Earlier, the divisional administration Kashmir had directed all the officers to stay alert and keep the men and machinery ready to tackle any post snowfall situation in the valley.
With the snowfall, the temperatures across Kashmir improved and there was relief to the people from intense cold. The taps that were frozen for last two weeks melted today giving relief to people from water shortage.
The Disaster Management Authority today issued avalanche warning for the hills of Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Kargil districts.
At minus 2.0 degree Celsius in Srinagar, recording an increase by almost four degrees from minus 6.1 degree Celsius on the previous night and it was few notches above the normal for this time of the year.
The minimum temperatures rose considerably in other parts of the Valley, settling at minus 1.3 degree Celsius in Pahalgam against minus 7.5 degree Celsius the previous night.
Qazigund recorded a low of minus 4.0 degree Celsius against 6.2 degree Celsius the previous night while Kokernag recorded a minimum of minus 4.5 degree Celsius against 6.5 degree Celsius the previous night. Against minus 4.8 degree Celsius the previous night, the mercury settled at minus 0.4 degree Celsius in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.
Gulmarg recorded a low of minus 4.8 degree Celsius against minus 6. 0 degree Celsius the previous night.
A MeT official said that the weather would start gradually improving across the Valley from midnight while from Sunday afternoon; there is possibility of complete improvement in the prevalent weather.
About night temperature, he said that the minimum temperature would rise again this night while it may go down by two to three degrees in next night
Kashmir is in the middle Chillai-Kalan, the 40-day winter period which commenced on December 21 and ends on January 31.
The period is considered the harshest of the winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum.
The cold wave, however, continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold). Already, Kashmir Valley received heavy snowfall earlier this month, disrupting normal life.
SSP Traffic National Highway Jammu, ML Kaith told the Excelsior that the slippery condition of the road on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel forced the suspension of traffic on the highway at around 10 am today. He said the snowfall started on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel during early hours today and around one ft snow had been accumulated on the ground by this evening in Jawahar Tunnel area.
He further disclosed that around 2100 vehicles had been stranded between Chenani and Jawahar Tunnel while around equal number in Udhampur, Jammu and Dhar Road. He said frequent shooting stones were taking place in Ramban sector making road more vulnerable for drive.
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 were hampering their efforts, the officer said, adding that around 100 vehicles had managed to cross the Jawahar Tunnel before the traffic on the highway was suspended again. Due to shooting stones between Ramban and Banihal also, the blockades were created but were cleared later.
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 Nagrota Bypass, Udhampur, Ramban and Banihal.
The snowfall started in the high-altitude areas of the Union Territory, while Jammu and other areas in the plains witnessed rainfall.
The Meteorological department has forecast light to moderate snowfall at scattered to widespread places in the plains of Kashmir and the hilly areas of Jammu, along with rain and thundershower in the plains of Jammu.
Meanwhile, Director Airport Authority of India, Jammu, PR Beoria said that due to snow on runway at Srinagar, six flights were cancelled at Jammu airport today while three others were suspended due to operational reasons. He said there was no visibility problem at Jammu airport today and most of the other flights operated normally.
Due to rain in many parts of Jammu region and heavy snowfall in Pir Panchal ranges and Trikuta hills since last night, entire Jammu region was in the grip of cold wave. The temperature has significantly dropped during last two days in the region while continuous rain has thrown normal life out of gear.
Reports from Udhampur, Reasi and Doda said that fresh snowfall has been witnessed at Trikuta Hills of Mata Vaishnodevi, Mahore, Gool-Ghulabgarh, Patnitop, Nathatop, Latti, Dudu Basantgarh, Pancheri, Bhaderwah and Bhallesa area. Even higher reaches of Billawar, Bani and Basohli and parts of Rajouri and Poonch also experienced fresh snowfall.
The power supply to many snow bound areas has been snapped and scores of link roads have been blocked due to snowfall and land slides in the region.