Heavy snowfall batters Kashmir; highway shut, flights suspended for 4th day

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Kashmir remained cut off from the rest of the world for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday as the Srinagar-Jammu highway remained blocked and air traffic suspended due to heavy snowfall.

Officials told news agency GNS that the work is underway to clear the highway — the only surface link connecting Kashmir with the outside world. 

“Jammu-Srinagar highway remains blocked due to snow accumulation at Jawahar Tunnel and landslides, mudslides and shooting stones at Samroli, Magarkot, Panthyal, Marog, Cafeteria mor, Dhalwas, Nashri,” said an official. “The work is underway,” the official added. Around 4500 vehicles, mainly carrying supplies to the valley as well as passenger vehicles are stranded en route.     

Regarding the air traffic, officials told GNS that at least eight flights have been already cancelled. 

Due to snowfall, the official said that all flights were cancelled on 3rd, 4th and 5th January. “The concerned AAI executives have been working very hard in coordination with Beacon staff and continuously monitoring the area to avoid snow accumulation in the apron area.” 

Meanwhile, normal life remained crippled in Kashmir Valley even as there are reports of snowfall causing damage to a few structures in the Valley. Most lanes are still impassable for driving across the Valley while main roads are being cleared, reports said. Snow clearance machines have been pressed to clear main roads, they said.   

A MeT official here told GNS that Srinagar received 34.7cm of snowfall in the last 24 hours till 0830 hours while Qazigund, the gateway town of Kashmir, recorded 33.7cm during the time.   

Pahalgam, the famous tourist destination, and Kokernag, also in south Kashmir, recorded 29.0 and 17cm of fresh snowfall, the MeT official said.

Regarding Gulmarg, the official said that the world famous skiing resort accumulated 28cm of fresh snowfall while Kupwara recorded 22cm of snowfall.  Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal and Budgam districts received almost the same snow depth as Srinagar even as higher reaches accumulated more snow.  

The heavy snowfall also caused power disruptions and as per official figures revealed during a meeting chaired by advisor to LG Baseer Ahmad Khan through video conference last evening, at least 223 feeders are still to be restored apart from several 33KV and 11KV lines. A few community transformers have also been damaged.  

The snowfall has also led to severe disruptions in milk and vegetable supplies to parts of Srinagar and elsewhere.  

Meanwhile, Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.9°C while mercury settled at minus 1.2°C in Pahalgam, minus 3.5°C in Gulmarg,  minus 0.2°C in Qazigund, minus 0.7°C in Kupwara while Kokernag recorded a low of minus 1.0°C, the official said.

Kashmir is in the middle Chillai-Kalan, the 40-day winter period which commenced on December 21 and ends on January 31. The period is considered the harshest of the winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum.

The cold wave, however, continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).

The weatherman has forecast more snowfall in the next 24 hours and a “significant” improvement from January 6. 

The weatherman has forecast a significant improvement in the weather conditions from this afternoon.  

“Weather is improving gradually, significant improvement is expected from today afternoon onwards but light rain/snow will occur at scattered places of Jammu and Kashmir for next 24 hours,” Director Meteorological department Sonam Lotus said. “For now, there is no forecast of any major snowfall,” he said, adding, “From tomorrow, weather is likely to remain mainly dry.”