Rains lash plains, snow in higher reaches

Rains lashed plains in Kashmir while the higher reaches received light to moderate snowfall on Saturday even as the Meteorological Department predicted improvement in weather from Sunday.

In the latest forecast issued, MeT department said inclement weather caused a sharp drop in temperatures while the higher reaches including ski-resort Gulmarg recorded almost 6 to 8-inch deep fresh snowfall. 

As per MeT data, summer capital Srinagar recorded 9.2 millimeter rainfall while Pahalgam in south Kashmir recorded 7.1 mm rainfall on Saturday till 5:30 pm. Kupwara 17.2  mm , Kokernag 20.8, Banihal 24.2 mm and Qazigund recorded 16.8 mm rainfall on Saturday causing multiple landslides which disrupted traffic on the 270-kilometre Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

Meanwhile, a sharp decrease in temperatures was recorded as Srinagar recorded 4.7 degrees Celsius on Friday night, down several notches from the 8 degrees Celsius recorded on Thursday night. On Friday, Srinagar witnessed a sharp decrease in day temperatures and recorded 5.3 degrees Celsius maximum temperature. Gulmarg on Friday night recorded minus 2.2 degrees Celsius and 0.2 degrees Celsius maximum temperature on Saturday.

The Valley this year witnessed the harshest 40-day winter period of Chilai Kalan in the last 30 years during which low temperatures caused freezing of water bodies including Dal Lake. Heavy snowfall during January 4 and 6 had cut off the Valley from the rest of the world for five days after both air and surface traffic had been affected. The Chilai Kalan which ended on December 30 was followed by  the 20-day ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) from January 30 to February 19  and now a 10-day ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold) from February 20 to March 1. It may be remembered that after having recorded freezing temperatures for 55 days, summer capital Srinagar witnessed a sharp increase in night temperature two weeks back. Srinagar had recorded minus 8.8 degrees on the last night of Chilai Kalan on January 30, registering as the coldest night of the last 30 years.

1-way traffic restored on highway

The traffic remained suspended for several hours on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway on Saturday after shooting stones struck the road at
various places between Ramban and Ramsu sector due to overnight rains.

A traffic police official said that the traffic came to a grinding halt on Saturday morning after shooting stones and mudslides struck the road at Seri Maroog Panthyal between Ramban and Ramsu.

Traffic officials said that after improvement in weather the contractor companies responsible for maintenance of the road, pressed into service their men and machinery to clear the stones and mudslides from the highway. 

The officials said that the road was restored for traffic in the afternoon and hundreds of stranded vehicles were allowed to proceed towards Kashmir.

Earlier, the traffic had remained suspended on the highway on Friday for weekly repairs.

(With inputs from MM Parvaiz)