Snowfall drapes Kashmir in white; highway shut, flight operations suspended
Moderate to heavy snowfall covered Kashmir on Friday, with streets and buildings cloaked in white and the Valley remaining cut-off from the rest of the country.
While landslides and shooting stones in Ramban district resulted in the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway for vehicular traffic, flight operations were suspended at the airport here due to poor visibility, officials said Authorities issued avalanche warnings in 10 districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
The higher reaches of the Union Territory received moderate to heavy snowfall, while many areas in the plains, including Srinagar, received light to moderate snowfall, the officials said.
The fresh snowfall started early in the morning and continued at several places till the last reports came in, they said.
The officials said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg recorded about eight inches of snowfall, following by 14 inches in Pahalgam and about 2.5-3 feet in Sonamarg (in the last 24 hours).
Many other areas in the higher reaches experienced very heavy snowfall, they added.
The plains in Jammu were lashed by rain.
The inclement weather resulted in the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway -- the only all-weather road connecting the Valley with the rest of the country, the officials said.
The highway was closed for traffic due to landslides in the Mehar area of Ramban district and slippery conditions of the road for most part of the day, they said.
The officials said road clearance was completed in the evening, but only stranded vehicles were allowed to ply.
However, slippery conditions prevail with intermittent shooting stones and mudslides along the route, the officials said, advising commuters to travel with caution.
The weather conditions also affected air traffic at the Srinagar airport.
Air traffic to and from the valley was suspended and most flights cancelled due to snowfall and low visibility, the officials said.
The flight operations had taken place in the morning, but had to be suspended due to continuous snowfall and low visibility, they said.
All flights for Friday were cancelled due to continuous bad weather, officials at the Srinagar airport said.
They said the passengers of the cancelled flights would be accommodated by the respective airlines in the next available flight at no extra cost.
In the wake of the snowfall, authorities issued an avalanche warning for 10 districts of J-K.
The State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) issued a 'high danger' avalanche warning for Bandipora and Kupwara districts in north Kashmir and a 'medium danger' warning for Baramulla and Ganderbal districts.
Low danger warning was issued for the districts of Anantnag, Doda, Kishtwar, Kulgam, Poonch and Ramban.
People living in these areas are advised to take precautions and avoid avalanche-prone areas, the officials said.
Two labourers from Kishtwar died on Thursday when an avalanche hit the work site of a construction company in Sonmarg in Ganderbal district.
The wet weather pushed the night temperature up at most places in the Valley, but lowered the day temperature.
Srinagar recorded the maximum temperature of 2.3 degrees Celsius and Gulmarg minus 3.4 degrees Celsius.
The night temperature settled above the freezing point in Srinagar and Qazigund.
Srinagar recorded a low of 1 degree Celsius on Thursday night, up from minus 0.2 degrees the night before, the officials said.
Qazigund, the gateway to the Valley, registered a minimum temperature of 0.2 degrees Celsius, while Kokernag in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 0.2 degrees, they said.
The minimum in Kupwara, a frontier district, settled above the freezing point at a low of minus 0.7 degrees.
Pahalgam in Anantnag district, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath Yatra, registered a low of minus 2.4 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature in Gulmarg in Baramulla district was recorded at minus 0.6 degrees Celsius, up from minus 5.5 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
The MeT Office had said fairly widespread light rain in the plains of Kashmir and Jammu divisions and light to moderate snow over the higher reaches is expected on Friday.
The weather will remain mainly dry from Saturday till January 18, it said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai Kalan', the 40-day harshest weather period when the chances of snowfall are maximum and most frequent.
Chillai Kalan begins on December 21 and ends on January 30. The cold wave continues even after that with a 20-day-long 'Chillai Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day-long 'Chillai Bachha' (baby cold) following it.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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