Several areas in Jammu and Kashmir Sunday received fresh snowfall, leading to closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway and cancellation of few flights at the Srinagar 'International' Airport. The prediction of moderate to heavy snowfall in the state in next 48 hours has prompted authorities to gear up to tackle any eventuality.
Traffic on Srinagar-Jammu highway was suspended following fresh snowfall and incessant rains, officials said. The highway shall remain closed on Monday, they said.
The Jawahar Tunnel and Banihal areas along the 300-km highway received intermittent snowfall since morning. "The traffic authorities cleared many vehicles on the highway but no vehicle was allowed to cross the Tunnel after 3 pm following heavy snowfall," they said.
Officials said 25 light motor vehicles and 30 trucks were stranded on Kashmir-side of the Tunnel till last reports came in.
Sources said Rajouri and Poonch districts also received snowfall due to which traffic on the alternate Rajouri-Thanamandi-Poonch road was suspended.
Reports of intermittent rains in lower hills and snowfall in upper reaches were also received from Kishtwar and Doda districts.
"The cut-off Marwa and Dachan areas of Kishtwar district also received heavy to moderate snowfall," reports said.
Superintendent of Police, Highway, Sanjay Kotwal said many vehicles were cleared on the Srinagar-Jammu highway since morning.
Meanwhile, snowfall in higher reaches and rains in plains plunged the temperature across the Jammu region. Jammu witnessed 7 notches fall in normal temperature due to cloudy weather and light showers.
Officials of the Indian Metrological Department said the maximum temperature in Jammu was recorded at 19.4 degree Celsius and minimum at 7.1 degree Celsius.
J&K's summer capital Srinagar received moderate snowfall on Sunday, breaking long dry spell, leading to cancellation of few flights.
Officials said higher reaches received snowfall since morning.
"The snowfall recorded in Qazigund was 4.7 cm, Pahalgam 1.6 cm, Kupwara 5 cm, Kokernag 2.9 cm and Srinagar 2.5 mm mixed rain and snow," they said.
"This fresh western disturbance is likely to affect the state for next two days," a Met official said. "Under the influence of this weather system, moderate to heavy snowfall would occur at many places in Kashmir and Jammu divisions and at a few places in Ladakh region."
Srinagar recorded maximum and minimum temperature of 4.3 degree and minus 0.2 degree Celsius respectively.
An official said due to snowfall, air traffic was disrupted and two flights were cancelled. Some flights, he said, were delayed while a few couldn't land at the airport due to bad weather.
Higher reaches and plains of Kupwara, Baramulla, and Bandipora districts received moderate to heavy snowfall.
Sadna Gali, about 11000 ft high mountain pass located on Chowkibal Tangdhar road received 4-feet snow while Farkyan Gali and Z-Gali received 3-feet snow.
Due to heavy snowfall, Chowkibal-Tamgdhar, Kupwara-Keran and Kupwara-Machil roads have been closed for vehicular traffic, officials said.
Plains of Kupwara district including Handwara, Langate, Trehgam, Kralpora, Vilgam and Lolab received 4 to 5 inch snow.
Following weather predictions, District Development Commissioner, Doda Bhupinder Kumar issued warning from February 1 to 3 in avalanche-prone areas of the district.
The Deputy Commissioner has advised the people not to venture in avalanche-prone areas during this time and clean snow from the rooftops of their houses.
"Snowfall is forecast for the next 48 hours in the Valley … We are ready to deal with such an eventuality," Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Rohit Kansal told PTI.
Kansal said a three-tier plan has been prepared to ensure least disruption to movement of traffic in the Valley in case of heavy snowfall.
"The first priority will be to keep the Srinagar-Jammu Highway motorable followed by inter-district roads in the Valley," he said.
Kansal said the roads leading to hospitals, power stations and water supply schemes will be next on the list.
"We want to ensure minimum disruption in basic amenities to the residents of the Valley," he said.
The Divisional Commissioner said there was enough stock of essential commodities in the Valley in case of the Srinagar-Jammu road getting closed due to snowfall.
(WITH INPUTS ALTAF BABA/SHAHID RAFIQ)