Kashmir receives season's 3rd major snowfall

Kashmir on Friday received season’s third major snowfall throwing normal life out of gear and causing suspension of both surface and air traffic. Meteorological Department has said that the present western disturbance over Jammu and Kashmir was going to last till Sunday.

“Widespread rain, snowfall is likely on Saturday in parts of Kashmir. Spell of rain/snowfall is expected at isolated places on Sunday also,” said a MeT official.

The 270-kilometer Srinagar-Jammu National Highway remained closed for traffic on Friday while all 25 flights at the Srinagar Airport were cancelled for seventh consecutive day. The Srinagar-Jammu highway was closed on Thursday afternoon after Banihal, Batote, Ramban witnessed heavy snowfall.

Train service on the 80-kilometer Srinagar-Banihal stretch also remained suspended on Friday due to presence of snow on tracks, said a railway official. However, train service operated normally on the Srinagar-Baramulla stretch, he said.

Most of the higher reaches received moderate to heavy snowfall since Thursday, while there was an increase in snowfall activity on Friday. It started snowing in the plains on Thursday night but the intensity picked up by Friday morning.

The Meteorological Department has predicted that ongoing wet spell in Jammu and Kashmir will continue till Sunday. “Fairly widespread rain/snow in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh is expected to continue till December 15,” said the weekly weather forecast issued by IMD.

HEAVY SNOWFALL IN SOUTH KASHMIR:

Parts of south Kashmir, especially Shopian and its upper reaches including Pir Ki Galli, and areas of Kulgam received almost 2–3 feet snowfall since Thursday afternoon. Pahalgam, Kokernag and Qazigund received almost 2 feet snow.

Locals from various south Kashmir areas said snow clearance on most of the roads, including those leading to hospitals and offices was slow. Residents said presence of snow on roads affected movement of vehicular transport. “Snow in main Anantnag town and parts of National Highway was not cleared at several places due to which traffic movement remained affected. If this is the scenario in towns what would be the fate of villages,” said a local from Anantnag. 

However, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, told Greater Kashmir that 154 snow clearance machines of the Mechanical Engineering department and 400 snow clearance machines belonging to the Works Department were pressed into service to clear the snow from roads.

Power supply in several parts of south Kashmir also remained disconnected since Thursday due to the heavy snowfall. Chief Engineer, Power Department, Aijaz Ahmad Dar told Greater Kashmir that 60 per cent power supply was restored in Anantnag town. He said restoration process in Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam could take one more day as damage to power infrastructure in these parts due to the snowfall was more.

“The 11 KV line in Shopian has been damaged for which restoration work is on. We hope if weather remains stable, we can restore maximum supply in Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam in a day or so,” said Dar.

MODERATE SNOWFALL IN NORTH KASHMIR TOWNS, HEAVY AT HIGHER REACHES:

Several areas in north Kashmir witnessed moderate to heavy snowfall on Friday. The plains received moderate snowfall while upper reaches of Bandipora and Kupwara recorded heavy snowfall.

Officials said that Keran Karnah, Tanghdar and Gurez areas of Kupwara and Bandipora districts which are already cut off from rest of the valley recorded heavy snowfall on Friday.

“The Gurez area of Bandipora district recorded 1.5 foot fresh snowfall while Keran, Karnah and Tanghdar of Kupwara district received over one foot fresh snowfall,” said Sonam Lotus, Director MeT. 

In Baramulla district, the picturesque Gulmarg tourist resort received over one foot snowfall while Affarvat recorded two feet snow.

ALL FLIGHTS CANCELLED FOR 7TH CONSECUTIVE DAY:

For the seventh consecutive day, all 25 flights at Srinagar Airport were cancelled due to inclement weather. Director, Airports Authority of India, Srinagar, Santosh Dhoke said poor runway visibility and snow on runway forced cancellation of flights.

“Two hi-tech snow clearance machines have been operational at the apron area where aircrafts are parked. Snow clearance was also done on runway in regular intervals. But poor visibility and continuous snowfall till afternoon disrupted flight operations again today,” said Dhoke.

As many as 196 flights have been cancelled at the airport in last seven days, causing huge inconvenience to travellers. Dhoke said MeT prediction for the wet spell to continue till Sunday was a major challenge for flight operations.

HIGHWAY CLOSED FOR TRAFFIC:

The 270-kilometer Srinagar-Jammu National Highway which was closed on Thursday due to fresh snowfall remained suspended for traffic on Friday also. Speaking to Greater Kashmir, Superintendent of Police, Traffic (Rural) Muzaffar Ahmad Shah said the road remained closed due to fresh landslides and uprooted trees at Ramban, Digdol and various other parts.

“Fresh landslides due to rain and snowfall have been reported from Digdol, Ramban and other parts. This is a main hurdle in the road clearance process ,” said Shah. Hundreds of vehicles, mainly trucks remain stranded on the highway since Thursday afternoon when the road was closed.

Srinagar-Leh National Highway and Mughal Road – connecting south Kashmir’s Shopian district to Pir Panchal – also remain closed for traffic.

(With inputs from Altaf Baba, Khalid Gul)