Srinagar: Kashmir is currently experiencing an unusual spell of cold weather, which has left locals surprised and farmers worried.
The mercury has dipped to record lows, and the continuous rainfall has added to the woes of the people, who are concerned about the impact it would have on their livelihood. During the past years, Kashmir witnessed mild weather during April and May.
However, this year, the temperature has been consistently low, and the rainfall has been continuous.
The sudden drop in temperature has raised apprehensions among the farmers that the continuous rainfall would cause damage to the crops while the agriculture sector was likely to be affected severely.
Kashmir witnessed continuous rainfall during the past week, which according to the officials was due to the frequency of two consecutive Western Disturbances (WD).
“This year we witnessed a high frequency of two back to back WDs in the first week of May due to which Kashmir witnessed heavy rainfall this week.
The amount of rainfall we recorded during last week is generally recorded in a month’s time,” Director of Meteorological Department (MeT), J&K, Sonam Lotus said.
He said that the first week of May witnessed two WDs including first WD on May 3 and second on May 7 and 8.
Lotus said that the highest precipitation was recorded in most parts of south Kashmir areas.
However, he said that the rainfall recorded in 2010 or 2013 was higher than this.
“We can’t call this weather unusual as during previous years too, rainfall was recorded in May. But, yes, the temperature got below normal because of WDs,” Lotus said.
On Monday, heavy to moderate rains were recorded in plain areas of Kashmir while light snowfall was reported from some upper reaches as well.
As per the figures produced by the MeT, Srinagar recorded 4.2 mm of rainfall, Qazigund 5.2 mm, Pahalgam 13.1 mm, Kupwara 3 mm, Kokernag 17.6 mm, and Gulmarg 10.4 mm since Monday morning.
During the 24 hours upto Monday morning, Srinagar received 1.6 mm of rainfall, Qazigund 49.8 mm, Pahalgam 15.1 mm, Kupwara 8.2 mm, Kokernag 62.2 mm, Gulmarg 10.8 mm, Jammu 2.7 mm, Banihal 40.2 mm, Batote 20.3 mm, Katra 6.4 mm, and Bhaderwah 9 mm.
Reports of fresh snowfall were received from the upper reaches of Gulmarg, Qazigund, Bandipora, Gurez, Kupwara, and Pir panjal range of south Kashmir mountains during the past 24 hours.
According to the MeT, Srinagar recorded a low of 6.7 degrees Celsius against 6.5 degrees Celsius the previous night and it was 4 degrees Celsius above normal for the summer capital.
Qazigund recorded a low of 4 degrees Celsius against 5.2 degrees Celsius the previous night and it was below normal by 5.2 degrees Celsius.
Pahalgam recorded a low of 2.6 degrees Celsius against 2.1 degrees Celsius the previous night and it was 2.9 degrees Celsius below normal.
Kokernag recorded a low of 2.2 degrees Celsius against 4.2 degrees Celsius the previous night and it was 7 degrees Celsius below normal.
However, Director MeT Lotus said there would be significant improvement in weather from May 9 with slight chances of rain and thunderstorms at several places. “But the weather will overall improve from May 10 for a week,” he said.
Meanwhile, the continuous rainfall caused prolonged closure of the Mughal Road while the schools up to middle level were closed on May 8 in Ramban and Doda district as well.
Despite putting in hectic efforts, the authorities were unable to restore the Mughal Road and make it through for vehicular movement.
Executive Engineer (PWD) Mughal Road Showkat Ahmad said, “During past years we would open Mughal road in March ending or April but this year it got delayed due to continuous rainfall. But we are expecting to clear the landslides in the shortest possible time and make it through for vehicular movement within a week if weather improves.”
The incessant rains have left the farmers unnerved.
They say that the rainfall has caused damage to the standing crops and the soil has become waterlogged.
“This is likely to affect the yield and we are worried about the cultivation of crops,” said Muhammad Aslam, a farmer from Chakloo, Baramulla.
Amid erratic weather and apprehensions of damages, experts have suggested measures to be taken for better crop cultivation.
Dean Agriculture Department Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K), Raihana Habib Kanth told Greater Kashmir that the continuous rains have delayed all operations, which were supposed to be done in open conditions like paddy seedling and other plantations.
“Those who have done it in March will be least affected but those who did it in April or are yet to do it will face problems. The incessant rains will tell upon the crop cultivation,” she said.
Kanth said that the farmers had to go for a drainage system in paddy fields and kitchen gardens to make an outlet for stagnant water in the fields and then go for sowing of seeds during sunny weather.
Dean Horticulture Science SKUAST-K, Khalid Rasool Dar said that there was still a window of hope for better crop cultivation in the horticulture sector if weather improves in the coming weeks.
“But the orchardists should not let water remain stagnant in orchards. They should go for proper drainage to avoid damage to orchards,” he said.