Severe cold grips J&K, NH remains blocked for 10 hours

Fresh snowfall at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Bhawan in Katra on Sunday evening. — Excelsior/Karandeep
Fresh snowfall at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Bhawan in Katra on Sunday evening. — Excelsior/Karandeep

Fresh snowfall at Gulmarg, Patnitop, Vaishnodevi shrine

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Dec 27: With rain and fresh snowfall lashing the higher reaches since this evening, entire Northern region including Jammu and Kashmir, has come under the grip of severe cold while traffic on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway remained disrupted for over 10 hours near Ramban due to landslides.
Famous tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam in Kashmir experienced fresh snowfall today while world renowned pilgrimage- Mata Vaishnodevi shrine at Katra in district Reasi besides Patnitop, Nathatop and Sanasar tourist places of Jammu region also witnessed snowfall this evening. Entire Jammu region came in the grip of severe cold this evening.
Official sources said that with the blockade of the National Highway at Boom near Chanderkote at around 10 am today, over 3000 vehicles including more than 1800 LMVs remained stranded till 8.30 pm tonight. There was delay in the restoration work on the part of road construction agency and also due to frequent shooting stones. Though highway was restored for one way traffic but frequent falling of boulders continued at this stretch of the highway as it was raining in the sector. Click here to watch video
SSP Traffic, National Highway, J S Johar told the Excelsior late this evening that Patnitop was experiencing fresh snowfall besides Pir Panchal area at Jawahar Tunnel in Banihal sector. He said the road which was blocked at Boom near Chanderkote in the morning, was cleared at around 8.30 pm but only stranded vehicles in Ramban and Nashri areas were allowed to be cleared. Massive traffic jam was also created by the LMV operators but Traffic cops were on the job to regulate the traffic under such harsh winter conditions.
Johar further disclosed that no movement of traffic was allowed from Udhampur, Jammu or from Qazigund side. These vehicles will be allowed to move ahead if the weather improved by tomorrow. Till late this evening, vehicles were allowed to move through Jawahar Tunnel snow bound area but if the slippery conditions worsened, the traffic will be restricted. The Traffic Police authorities were closely monitoring the situation. The passenger vehicles may be restricted as precautionary measures on this slippery patch at Jawahar Tunnel any time now, the SSP added.
Jammu City and surrounding areas witnessed spine chilling cold this evening. Though Jammu recorded 4.2 degree Celsius temperature during morning hours, there was sharp fall in the temperature, nearly 4 degrees below normal in the evening.
Holy town of Katra Mata Vaishnodevi recorded a minimum temperature of 5.7 degree C and maximum 14.8 degrees, Bhaderwah minimum -1.8 deg C and maximum 12.6 deg C while Banihal town minimum temperature of -2.6 degrees C today. A MeT official has predicted clear to partly cloudy sky in Jammu region tomorrow and in Kashmir, generally cloudy weather to light snowfall in next 24 hours.
Reports from Srinagar said that chilly weather conditions further intensified as the mercury dipped and settled several degrees below normal across Kashmir valley, where moderate to heavy rain and snowfall was predicted today.
Most of the water bodies in Srinagar city had partially frozen in the morning as the mercury dipped and settled at minus 5.2 degree though there was some improvement in the day temperature due to Sunshine.
Meanwhile, people continue to suffer in the Union Territory of Ladakh, including Drass, the second coldest place in the world as the maximum and minimum temperatures remained below freezing point.
A MeT department official said that moderate rain and snow would occur on Sunday evening and Monday at most places in the Valley under the influence of a Western Disturbance (WD), which has hit the region this evening.
The border town of Kargil was the coldest place in the region at minus 17.4 degree, followed by Leh, where the mercury settled at minus 12.9 degree.
The mercury in Srinagar city dipped about 2 degree from Saturday and settled at minus 5.2 degree, which is 3 degree below normal. Most of the water bodies, including world famous Dal lake, were partially frozen due to sub-zero temperature. People woke up to a chilly Sunday morning in the city, where mechanics and drivers had burned wood on roadsides to keep themselves warm.
World famous ski resort of Gulmarg was the coldest place in the Valley. Against minus 6.5 degree recorded on Saturday, the night temperature in Gulmarg was 7.2 degree, which is over a degree below normal. “Despite chilly weather conditions, tourists, including foreigners were out on ski slopes enjoying different snow related activities. The footfall of tourists has started increasing in the resort, which is known for its ski slopes and quality of snow,” a hotelier from Gulmarg said.
World famous health resort of Pahalgam in South Kashmir, also witnessed a dip in the night temperature and settled a degree below normal. Against minus 4.5 degree recorded on Saturday, the night temperature in the resort was minus 5.9 degree.
The night temperature at Qazigund, gateway to the Valley, Kupwara in North Kashmir and tourist resort of Kokernag dipped and settled at minus 5 degree, minus 4.8 degree and minus 4.9 degree, respectively.