Heavy snowfall cripples life in Kashmir

Heavy snowfall across Kashmir on Tuesday – third day of the ongoing wet spell – affected normal life as Kashmir remained cut-off from the outside world for the third consecutive day. Amid heavy snowfall, the 270-kilometre Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed while no flight operations could take place at the Srinagar International Airport.

With incessant snowfall, very few people could be seen out in the markets and a thin movement of traffic was witnessed on the roads.

The slippery road conditions due to the heavy snowfall made it difficult for people to commute. Officials said snow clearance was underway, especially near hospitals and other important places. They said more than 200 snow clearance machines across the Valley were on the job but incessant heavy snowfall was making the clearance difficult, officials added.

As already predicted by the Meteorological Department, snowfall started during the wee hours of Tuesday, while its intensity picked up during the day. Areas of north Kashmir, which had received comparatively less snowfall during the last two days, also recorded a moderate to heavy snowfall on Tuesday, affecting movement of traffic on key roads. The ski-resort Gulmarg in Baramulla as per the MeT department received 1 to 2 feet of fresh snowfall. Maximum impact of the snowfall was seen in south and central Kashmir where 2 to 3 feet was received in the plains. Besides, the MeT officials said more than 3 feet deep snowfall in higher reaches was received till Tuesday evening.

Improvement in weather likely from Wednesday afternoon: MeT

The Meteorological Department forecast said that the wet spell was likely to continue till Wednesday afternoon after which weather was expected to improve. Director MeT, Sonam Lotus, told the Greater Kashmir, “While weather is likely to improve from Wednesday afternoon, the cold wave conditions are likely to return as night temperatures are expected to fall once again.” The Met has issued an advisory for people living in higher reaches asking them to remain vigilant and avoid unnecessary visits outdoors.

Highway closed, all flights cancelled again:

Amid heavy snowfall and multiple landslides, the 270-kilometre Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed for traffic while all scheduled flights were cancelled at the Srinagar International Airport for the third straight day. Flights at the Srinagar Airport have been unable to operate since Sunday due to poor runway visibility and accumulation of snow on the runway. A Traffic department advisory issued here said the highway will continue to remain closed on Wednesday. The vehicular traffic on the highway was stopped on Saturday night although it was thrown open partially on Monday for a brief period but shooting stones at Panthyal and other places between Ramban-Banihal sector forced authorities to suspend traffic on the highway. Hundreds of vehicles including load carriers carrying essentials have been stopped at Chenani Jakhani, Udhampur, Dhar road and other places.

Traffic police National Highway Ramban said 18 inches of snow has accumulated near Jawahar tunnel and Nowgam sector of the highway while continuous snowfall is hampering snow clearance, the officials added. Officials said it will take at least two days to restore the highway for vehicular traffic if the weather improves. They said fresh landslides occurred at Samroli, Moud, Nashri, Dalwass, Duggi Pulli. Mehar, Cafeteria Morh, Seri Maroog, Digdool, Panthyal and Mompassi besides shooting stones at several other places between Nashri and Banihal sector of highway.

Snowfall affects candidates of J&K Bank exams:

As per the MeT department, summer capital Srinagar recorded almost one feet deep snowfall since Monday. The heavy snowfall compounded problems as people from different parts of the city told this newspaper about the inconvenience caused by accumulation of snow. Amid heavy snowfall, the Banking Associate job aspirants of J&K Bank could be seen either walking towards their respective examination centres or waiting for public transport to reach their destinations. A group of job aspirants at the Sanat Nagar chowk told the Greater Kashmir that due to heavy snowfall, it took them more than one hour to travel from HMT area to Sanat Nagar junction, where they could be seen waiting for public transport in order to reach their designated exam centres located at Rangreth. “The snow clearance has been quite slow and public transport being off the roads has caused us huge inconvenience. We were hoping that the exam would be postponed but that was not the case,” said Nasir, an aspirant.

Avalanche warnings issued:

The Disaster Management Authority of the J&K government on Tuesday issued a medium level (yellow alert) avalanche warning  for higher reaches of Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara and Bandipora districts. It has also issued an alert for Waltengu Nad, South and North portals of Jawahar Tunnel, Verinag, Kapran, Chowkibal-NC Pass, Gurez, Dawar and Neeru, said an advisory issued by the authority.  A low level (yellow alert) avalanche warning has been issued for upper reaches of Udhampur, Baramulla, Ganderbal and Kargil districts besides Sonamarg – Zojila, Z-Gali- Kalaroose, Kanzalwan, Tangmarg and Gulmarg have also been declared in the avalanche-prone zones.

Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ – the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the Dal Lake as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.

The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches receive heavy snowfall.