Snow continues to batter Kashmir for third day; flights grounded, highway closed

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Srinagar: Flights remained grounded while the Jammu-Srinagar highway continued to be closed as snowfall battered Kashmir Valley for the third consecutive day on Tuesday.

Officials said that no flight could take off or arrive at the Srinagar international airport due to poor visibility. The airlines have already canceled or rescheduled the flights and as per the officials, it was highly unlikely for any operation to take place at the airport in the wake of the snowfall.

Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir Valley with the rest of the world, also remained closed for the third consecutive day due to continuous accumulation of snow at several places, especially in and around Jawahar tunnel with snow depths of around 3ft. Around 4500 vehicles, mostly trucks carrying essentials to the valley, are stranded at several places along the 270km stretch.

“Jammu-Srinagar highway continues to be blocked due to snow accumulation at Jawahar Tunnel and Landslides and mudslides at several places,” a traffic police official said.

Mughal Road, which connects the Shopian with Poonch district has been closed for several days due to heavy snowfall in the region. Srinagar-Leh highway has been officially closed on the orders by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir on 30 December.

A MeT official here told that Srinagar received 8cms of snowfall in the last 24 hours till 0830 hours while Qazigund, the gateway town of Kashmir, recorded the highest depth in the plains across Valley—29.8cms—during the time and 80cms (32inches) in the last 48 hours.

Pahalgam, the famous tourist destination, and Kokernag recorded 18cms and 26cms of fresh snowfall in the 24 hours respectively.

Regarding Gulmarg, the official said that the worldfamous skiing resort accumulated 20cms of fresh snowfall in the last 24 hours while Kupwara recorded 2cms of snowfall. Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and Budgam districts received almost the same snow depth as Srinagar even as higher reaches accumulated around 24-30cms or more fresh snow.

Reports said that several main roads and almost all interior lanes are still clogged with snow even as the divisional administration pressed men and machinery into service in the early hours of the day to clear snow from the roads. The snowfall has also led to disruptions in milk and vegetable supplies to Srinagar.

Meanwhile, Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.8 °C while mercury settled at minus 1.1°C in Pahalgam, minus 4.0°C in Gulmarg, Qazigund minus 0.2°C, Kupwara minus 0.7°C while Kokernag recorded a low of minus 0.7°C, the official said.

Kashmir is in the middle Chillai-Kalan, the 40-day winter period which commenced on 21 December and ends on 31 January. The period is considered the harshest of the winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum.

The cold wave, however, continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).

The weatherman has forecast more snowfall in the next 24 hours and a “significant” improvement in weather from 6 January. (GNS)

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