*12 flights cancelled
Fayaz Bukhari/ Govind Sharma
SRINAGAR/JAMMU, Dec 20: While fresh snowfall in Kashmir and higher reaches of Jammu region this evening forced closure of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and cancellation of several flights to and fro Srinagar Airport, one person was killed and eight others were injured when a Tempo carrying them from Srinagar to Jammu was hit by shooting stones.
As predicted by the weathermen, Kashmir valley and higher reaches of Jammu region including Chenab valley areas received fresh snowfall today ahead of Chillai-Kalan which begins tomorrow whereas plain areas of Jammu received moderate rainfall, leading to drop in temperatures across the Union Territory of J&K. The snowfall led to slippery road conditions near the Jawahar Tunnel area forcing authorities to close the NH-44 for traffic this evening.
An official said that around 1000 vehicles crossed Jawahar tunnel towards Srinagar before the NH-44 was closed for traffic due to snowfall near the Tunnel. He added that around 3 inches of snow had accumulated at the Jawahar Tunnel. Click here to watch video
The official said that around 1000 vehicles were stranded between Udhampur and Jawahar Tunnel due to closure of the highway while 7000 trucks were stranded in Qazigund area.
“Traffic was stopped at 5.30 pm on the highway after snowfall near Jawahar Tunnel. There was 3 to 6 inches of snow near Jawahar tunnel this evening and nearly 1,000 vehicles have been stranded between the Tunnel and the Ramban sector, the official said, adding, vehicles were moving at a snail’s pace due to slippery roads in the area, leading to a massive traffic jam on a 20-km stretch on the highway.
He said that a Tempo carrying passengers from Srinagar to Jammu was hit by shooting stones near Gangru in Ramsoo area, resulting into on spot death of a woman passenger namely Haseena Begum (45) wife of Mohd Ismail of Giohnaal Bingara, and injuries to eight others. While some of the injured passengers were shifted to the Army Hospital, others were taken to District Hospitals of Ramban and Banihal.
Twelve flights to and fro the Srinagar airport were cancelled due to bad weather conditions, officials of the Airport Authority of India said, as most parts of Kashmir experienced a fresh spell of snowfall today.
Out of 25 scheduled flights for the day, only 13 operated to and fro the Srinagar airport in the morning while the rest 12 flights were cancelled later in the day due to bad weather, they said, adding flight operations were also normal at Jammu Airport till 1 pm but due to fresh snowfall in Kashmir, 5 Srinagar bound flights were cancelled.
The higher reaches of Kathua district, particularly Bani, Lohai Malhar, Machhedi and Sarthal areas connecting to Bhaderwah and Doda district, received 1 to 3 feet of snowfall, due to which road link between Bani- Sarthal and Bani-Basohli were affected badly. Except Bani town, power supply to other areas was yet to be restored as the same has already been snapped to snowfall occurred earlier.
A MeT department official said that weather is expected to improve in Kashmir from Sunday onwards and in Jammu from tomorrow morning and thereafter it is predicted to remain dry till the end of the year.
He said Srinagar recorded maximum of 2.4 degree Celsius and minimum of minus 2.6 degree Celsius. Gulmarg, the world famous ski resort, shivered at minimum of minus 10.0 degree Celsius while Pahalgam recorded maximum of 0.0 degree Celsius and minimum of minus 4.1 degree Celsius.
Qazigund recorded maximum of 10.2 degree Celsius and minimum of minus 1.8 degree Celsius, Kokernag maximum of 5.0 degree Celsius and minimum of minus 4.0 degree Celsius whereas Kupwara a maximum of 5.6 degree Celsius and minimum of minus 3.1 degree Celsius.
Jammu registered a maximum of 11.6 degree Celsius and minimum of 8.2 degree Celsius, Banihal maximum of 8.2 degree Celsius and minimum of minus 1.5 degree Celsius, Batote maximum of 9.2 degree Celsius and minimum 2.0 degree Celsius, Katra maximum of 12.4 degree Celsius and minimum of 7.0 degree Celsius whileas Bhaderwah had maximum of 8.9 and minimum of 1.2 degree Celsius.
Leh recorded maximum of 0.0 degree Celsius and minimum of minus 8.1 degree Celsius. Drass recorded maximum of minus 7.0 degree Celsius and minimum of minus 16.1 degree Celsius.
The 40-day long coldest and severe part of the winter in Kashmir, Chillai Kalan begins from tomorrow. This part of the winter witnesses sub-zero temperatures and freezes water bodies and water taps across the region. Chillai Kalan arrives on the scene on December 21 and leaves on January 29 after completing the spell of 40 days. This is considered to be the most bone-chilling phase of the winter season in the Kashmir valley.
There is a general feeling in the Valley that Chillai Kalan is accompanied by heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures. Chillai Kalan creates a phobia among the Valley residents so much so that they heave a sigh of relief once Chillai Kalan leaves the scene.