NH closed, over 2000 vehicles stranded; two injured

A jeep trapped in snow at Bhaderwah on Wednesday evening. —Excelsior/Tilak Raj
A jeep trapped in snow at Bhaderwah on Wednesday evening. —Excelsior/Tilak Raj

Heavy snowfall in Valley, parts of Jammu
Gopal Sharma / Fayaz Bukhari
JAMMU/ SRINAGAR, Dec 12: Over 2000 vehicles were stranded after Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic due to snowfall in Jawahar Tunnel area this afternoon, while with the continuous rain since last night, the temperature in Jammu has gone about 8 degrees below normal.
Most of the areas in Kashmir, including famous tourist resorts of Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam and Patnitop, Bhaderwah, Latti-Dudu and Mata Vaishnodevi hills in Jammu region experienced heavy snowfall, registering a sharp fall in the temperature. Jammu city registered a fall of 9.3 degree Celsius in just past 24 hours. Entire region has been reeling under the grip of cold wave.
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Official sources said that in the morning, some vehicles were allowed to proceed towards Jammu from Qazigund side in Kashmir, but they could not cross the Jawahar Tunnel as it started snowing. The Srinagar bound vehicles from Jammu were allowed to move towards their destination till 2 pm but were stopped at Banihal thereafter as the snowfall went on increasing and the road turned slippery and dangerous.
IG, Traffic, Alok Kumar told the Excelsior that over 250 stranded light motor vehicles in Ramban and Banihal areas due to landslides at Digdol and Seri were cleared for Srinagar. The shooting stones, at Battery Chashma also suspended movement of vehicles for some time. However, many vehicles were later cleared towards Tunnel from Ramban. But after 3 pm, the movement of traffic towards Kashmir was totally stopped due to reported accumulation of over 1.5 ft snow in tunnel area.
Kumar further disclosed that two persons were also injured as shooting stones hit two light vehicles at Seri and Peerah today. Injured Modh Yousuf and Gulzar Ahmed of Kashmir were provided treatment in Ramban hospital. He said about 250 light motor vehicles were stranded at safer zones in Banihal and about 50-60 in Ramban. Many trucks/ load carriers have been stopped at Chanderkote and Peerah besides this side of the Nashri Tunnel and Bypass/ Dhar Road Udhampur. The movement of vehicles from Nagrota Bypass has also been stopped. He disclosed that more than 2000 vehicles were stranded on the highway.
The IG further said that Batore-Doda-Kishtwar road was clear. But some link roads were said to be closed in this belt due to snowfall. He said if the weather remained clear tomorrow, the traffic from Kashmir to Jammu will be allowed and the stranded vehicles will also be cleared.
Sources said that due to snowfall, Latti-Dudu-Basantgarh-Ramnagar road in Udhampur, Bani- Sarthal-Bhaderwah, Kishtwar – Sinthon Top-Anantnag, Rajouri-Dera Gali-Bafliaz-Poonch roads were also closed after snowfall. The power supply to most of these snow clad areas has been snapped.
There was also heavy snowfall in South Kashmir’s Shopian, Kokernag, Pahalgam areas. It was drizzling in Srinagar this evening and snowing in South Kashmir.
Srinagar-Leh National Highway and Mughal road is also closed for traffic due to snowfall for the last two days.
Director Meteorological Department, Srinagar, Sonam Lotus said that the weather will remain overcast tomorrow and it will be followed by a week long dry weather conditions. He said the minimum temperatures were likely to drop further in the coming days.
Meanwhile, due to overcast conditions and snowfall in the hills, Kashmir was shivering with cold today. Minimum temperatures dropped across the Kashmir valley and the Ladakh region.
Due to cloud cover in the last three days, the minimum temperature had increased across Jammu and Kashmir, bringing in respite from the cold wave. The minimum temperatures in Kargil, Leh, Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Srinagar today were minus 9.3 degrees Celsius, minus 9.1, minus 8, minus 5 and 0.2 degrees, respectively.
The Jammu city recorded 9.6 degrees Celsius, Katra 8.2, Batote zero, Banihal 1.4 and Bhaderwah 0.3 as the night’s lowest temperatures. The maximum temperature in Jammu today remained 13.2 degree C which was about 8 degrees below the normal temperature of 22.5 degree C.
In holy township of Katra also, the day temp was about 7.8 deg C below normal while in Bhadwerwah town, it was 12.2 deg C below normal. Due to bad weather and rains, the chopper service from Base camp Katra to Mata Vaishnodevi Bhawan also remained suspended. There was thin attendance in most of the offices and schools/ colleges in Jammu due to rain and chilling cold. The water logging at many crossings and localities of the city affected the smooth movement of traffic. Most of the people preferred to stay indoor due to rain and chilling cold in the winter capital.
Meanwhile, the day temperature across Kashmir was below normal with Srinagar recording 6.8 degree Celsius which is 2.8 degrees below normal. Qazigund recorded 1.4 degree Celsius, Pahalgam 1.6 degree Celsius, Kokernag 1.3 degree Celsius which is 8.2 degree Celsius, 5.5 degree Celsius and 9.1 degree Celsius below normal.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan today directed Chief Engineer BEACON to deploy men and machinery on Bandipora-Gurez Road to clear snow on the road and restore the connectivity immediately so that the people living in the area do not face any inconvenience.
The directions were passed as a large numbers of people are stranded in Gurez and Bandipora after the closure of the road at Razdhan Pass due to snowfall.
Meanwhile, Bhadarwah and higher reaches of entire Chenab region and surrounding villages of Bhadarwah town experienced heavy snowfall, while moderate snow was recorded in Kishtwar, Gandoh and Bhadarwah towns  since early morning on Wednesday, dipping mercury to the lowest level of the season so far and throwing normal  life out of gear in this high altitude area of the State.
Torrential  rains since last night lashed whole Chenab belt and surroundings of Bhaderwah, Kishtwar and Gandoh which witnessed fresh snowfall of the season.
The surroundings of Bhadarwah valley which include Ashapati, Seoj Dhar, Kailash Kund,Shankhoja, Dugga, Kansar, Subar Dhar,Thuba, Dhamunda, Sharekhi, Bumlakhi, Mathola, Chinchora, Dhara, Hanga and Jai witnessed 1.5 to 3 feet of fresh snowfall, while Bhadarwah, Kishtwar and Gandoh towns recorded 3, to 4 inches, simultaneously.
The higher reaches of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Banihal and Gandoh including Padder,Marwah, Sinthan Top, Mughal Maidan, Dessa, Gurmal, Siraj, Tanta,  Gandri, Kabbi, Neel Top, Mahu, Mangat, Kharri , Gool and other higher reaches also received moderate to heavy snowfall. Mahore- Gool road has also been closed due to heavy snowfall at Daggan Top. People  were forced to wear warm clothes to protect themselves from the bone chilling cold and also use traditional Bukharies (Fire places) and Kangri (Firepots) to protect themselves  in the severe cold climate.
As the harsh winter has settled in and the mercury has started dipping to minus digits in Chenab belt, vendors also were seen selling Kashmiri ‘Kangris’ in Bhadarwah town and other areas of Chenab  region.