Kashmir remained cut-off from the outside world for the second consecutive day on Monday as snowfall affected surface and air traffic. The Meteorological Department has predicted “heavy to very heavy snowfall during Monday night and Tuesday” and an improvement in weather from Wednesday afternoon.
As per the Meteorological Department officials, districts in south Kashmir witnessed the maximum impact of the snowfall as plains in these areas have received almost 2 feet deep snow since Saturday night. Valley higher reaches have recorded a heavy snowfall of almost 3 feet deep during the last two days. Summer capital Srinagar continued to witness intermittent snowfall and recorded 5 inches of fresh snowfall on Monday.
Forecast for more snowfall, admin says geared up:
The MeT forecast said snowfall is likely to continue till Wednesday afternoon, after which “there is possibility of a significant improvement in the weather”.
The Met advisory said inclement weather will continue to affect both surface and air traffic. It has also asked people in higher reaches and snow-bound areas “to avoid venturing outside”. The Disaster Management Authority of the J&K government has also issued a low-danger (yellow alert) avalanche warning for Gulmarg, Gurez, Kanzalwan and Sonamarg. Medium level avalanche warning has been issued for the upper reaches of Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Jawahar Tunnel, Doda, Kishtwar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Kupwara and Tangdhar.
When contacted, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole, told the Greater Kashmir that the administration “has geared up its men and machinery” to handle problems arising out of the inclement weather. Pole said more than 200 snow clearance machines have been pressed into service for snow clearance of roads in Srinagar, inter-district routes and towns. “The Met forecast for heavy snowfall for next 24 hours is quite severe. All concerned departments have been asked to remain vigilant for facing the challenges especially snow clearance and restoration of essential services,” Pole said .The Div Com urged people to follow the Met advisory and important guidelines in view of the forecast for a heavy snowfall. He said the administration has set-up various emergency helpline numbers at district level in order to help those in distress.
Highway closed, flights cancelled:
For the second consecutive day on Monday, the 270-kilometre Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed for vehicular traffic due to heavy snowfall near Jawahar Tunnel and landslides at various places. The highway had been closed on Saturday night after heavy snowfall and shooting stones at various places. As per an advisory issued by the Traffic Department “no vehicular movement shall be allowed on the highway from either side in view of snow accumulation near the tunnel and Met prediction for more snowfall”.
SSP Traffic (National Highway) Jitendra Singh Johar told the Greater Kashmir that 100 to 200 stranded passenger vehicles were moved towards their destinations after clearance of snow and landslides but many vehicles were still stuck on the road. Johar said efforts are on to clear the rest of stranded traffic on the highway. “We have managed to clear some of the stranded vehicles but it is very difficult due to the heavy snowfall to allow traffic to ply on the highway. There is MeT warning for inclement weather, so the highway is going to remain affected especially due to fresh landslides taking place,” Johar said.
The Mughal Road connecting Valley with Pir Panchal region remains closed due to accumulation of snow. The Srinagar-Leh Highway was last week closed by the J&K administration due to slippery road conditions and inclement weather.
Meanwhile, flight operations at the Srinagar International Airport remained affected for the second consecutive day due to inclement weather. All 28 flights that were scheduled for Monday were cancelled due to “snowfall causing poor runway visibility”, Airport Authority of India officials said.
“The snow clearance has been completed and the runway and apron (area where aircraft is parked) are available for use. However, due to poor visibility landing permission for aircrafts was not granted by the Air Traffic Control (ATC), so all flights were cancelled,” Director AAI, Srinagar, Santosh Dhoke told the Greater Kashmir.
On Sunday, all 19 scheduled flights were cancelled due to the snowfall at the Airport, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.
While there has been an improvement in the night temperatures amid the ongoing wet spell, day temperatures plummeted further as Srinagar on Monday recorded 2.9 degrees Celsius and ski-resort Gulmarg recorded minus 0.8 degrees maximum temperature. 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 famous 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.