JAMMU, Jan 21: Heavy snowfall on the higher reaches and rain paralysed normal life across the region while National Highway and many link roads in the hilly areas have been blocked due to fresh snowfall during past 24 hours in J&K.
Due to fog and bad weather, Air India flight was cancelled while seven flights were delayed at Jammu Airport whereas, chopper service to Mata Vaishnodevi shrine from base camp Katra remained suspended through out the day.
Trikuta hills of Mata Vaishnodevi, tourist resorts of Patnitop, Nathatop, Sanasar, Bhaderwah, Latti-Dudu, Dera Gali and Pancheri have experienced fresh snowfall while, due to heavy snowfall in Jawahar Tunnel area, the National Highway was closed during last mid night. Hundreds of vehicles have been stranded due to highway blockade.
Kud-Patnitop-Batote and Man Talai-Latti-Dudu-Basantgarh-Ramnagar and Udhampur-Pancheri-Landhar roads have also been closed. Several other roads in Bhaderwah, Gandoh, Bhalesa, Chatroo, Paddar and others areas of Kishtwar and Doda besides mountainous areas of Rajouri, Reasi, Ramban and Poonch have also been closed.
Meanwhile, fresh snowfall in high altitude areas and rains in plains led to suspension of traffic movement on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway today, leaving over 1500 vehicles stranded at various places in Ramban and Banihal sectors of the highway.
IG Traffic T Namgyal said that there was heavy snowfall in Jawahar Tunnel and Banihal since last mid night. Due to this the traffic on the strategic highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was suspended from both Srinagar and Jammu. He said shooting stones due to rain also created problem in some areas of Ramsu and Ramban.
He added that a large number of trucks and other vehicles, mostly Kashmir-bound vehicles are stranded in Banihal sector. He said Kashmir bound vehicles will be cleared tomorrow if the weather improved.
Another senior Traffic Police official said that about one ft fresh snowfall was accumulated on the ground on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel till 3 pm, leaving the road slippery, while rain triggered intermittent shooting of stones at various places between Panthial, Mompassi, Digdol and Ramsu areas of Ramban sector. Despite slippery road conditions, around 100 stranded vehicles were cleared for Valley but the traffic was again stopped after some vehicles got trapped and road turned more dangerous.
He said more than one feet snowfall was recorded in high altitude areas of Jammu region including the famous hill resort of Patnitop in Udhampur district. Even Man Talai, Kud, Chenani, Thannamandi, Surankote and Mandi towns experienced fresh snowfall.
The weatherman had predicted a spell of fresh snowfall in Kashmir, upper reaches of Jammu and isolated places of Kargil district in the Union Territory of Ladakh for two days beginning today.
The highway town of Banihal in Ramban and Bhaderwah in Doda district received more than 10 inches of snowfall today followed by 7-8 inches in Batote. Batote town was recorded as coldest place in Jammu region with a minimum of minus 2.1 degrees Celsius temperature, an official of the MeT department said.
He said Jammu city recorded a low of 8.2 degrees Celsius, up from the previous night’s 7.6 degrees Celsius.
Katra, the base camp for pilgrims visiting Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district, recorded a minimum of 6.2 degrees Celsius, Banihal minimum 0.2 deg C, Bhaderwah town maximum 10.9 deg C and minimum minus 1.5 deg C while Kathua had maximum 18.4 degrees C and minimum 7.4 deg C temperature today.
Reports from Doda said that Bhaderwah Valley has experiencing yet another spell of fresh snowfall since early morning today, even as rains lashed other areas of erstwhile Doda district. Padri meadow of Bhaderwah recorded about 2 feet of fresh snowfall since morning, while Chattargala pass on Bhaderwah-Basohli Road recoded 2.5 feet fresh snowfall.
There are reports of snowfall in other areas in the higher reaches of the Chenab valley, including Marwah, Dachhan, Gandoh, Kota Top, Keinthi Dhar, Banihal, Gool and Batote.
The plains of the erstwhile Doda district are witnessing torrential rains.
Due to continued snowfall, temperature has further dropped to minus, forcing people to remain indoors and lit traditional fireplaces (Bhukharis) and Firepot (Kangri) to save themselves from the bone chilling cold.
Meanwhile, an official at Jammu Airport said that a Spicejet flight was cancelled today while seven other flights were delayed due to fog and bad weather. He said the helicopter service at Katra Mata Vaishnodevi also remained suspended today.
Reports from Poonch and Rajouri said that Thannamandi, Manjakote, Budhal, Mandi, Loran, Bafliaz and even parts of Surankote also experienced snowfall today while Surankote-Dera Gali-Thanna road have been closed. During morning hours, traffic movement was also affected at Bhimber Gali due to snowfall but the road was cleared shortly by the Defence authorities. The power supplies to many snowbound and hilly areas has been hit due to rain and snowfall, the reports said.