The local meteorological department has predicted widespread rains and snowfall at most places in Jammu and Kashmir for four days beginning Tuesday, even as the Srinagar-Jammu highway was again closed for traffic on Monday following a fresh landslide in Ramban.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, inspector general of traffic police Alok Kumar confirmed that the highway was closed late on Monday afternoon after a massive landslide hit Kharpora area in Ramban district. The road clearance operation, however, is underway, he said.
Kumar said that Kashmir-bound trucks carrying essential commodities were allowed to continue their journey to Srinagar prior to the road closure.
"2000 such trucks crossed the Jawahar tunnel on Monday, while another 1200 trucks and load carriers are stuck on the road," Kumar said.
The nearly 300-km-long highway—the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the world—was re-opened Sunday after three days of its closure due to landslides and shooting stones.
However, only heavy motor vehicles—stranded on the highway for the past several days—were allowed towards Srinagar from Jammu on Monday.
"No traffic was allowed from the opposite direction," IG Kumar said.
Earlier, heavy snowfall, multiple landslides and shooting stones forced closure of the highway for six days from January 21.
Meanwhile, a fresh western disturbance is approaching the state from Tuesday, February 5, and is likely to cause light to moderate snow and rain, a meteorological department official said.
The intensity of this weather system will increase from February 6 onwards and is likely to lead to heavy rain or snow in southern Kashmir, Ramban-Banihal-Jawahar tunnel and Pir Panchal areas, mainly during 6 and 7 February, the official said.
This year, Jammu and Kashmir has recorded surplus precipitation values at 46 percent, the official said.
He said the highest number of wet spells were seen in January this year as compared to the last 10 years.
During the last winter, Kashmir did not receive any major snowfall in January. "After a gap of 10 years, Kashmir recorded more spells of snow in January this winter," the official said, adding that in 2011, Srinagar received 1.6mm snow in January, while this figure was 60.2mm in 2012 and 58 mm in 2013 during the month.
In 2015 and 2016, the summer capital received 5.6mm and 21.4mm snow respectively in January.
The first snowfall this winter was experienced in November last week. Later, such spells continued intermittently, resulting in disruption of air and surface traffic, cutting off Kashmir from rest of the world.
Meanwhile, in a statement, divisional commissioner Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan quoted an advisory issued by the Indian metrological centre Srinagar and said a western disturbance is likely to affect Jammu and Kashmir from 5-7 February.
"Moderate to heavy snow/rain is expected at widespread places of Jammu, Kashmir on 5th February afternoon and increase in intensity and distribution thereafter. The main activity of the system—heavy to very heavy rain/snow is most likely during 5th and 7th February and gradual decrease thereafter," Khan said, quoting the weather advisory.
"The system is likely to cause widespread rain/snow with heavy to very heavy rain/snow mainly in southern Kashmir, PirPanjal range (Doda, Batote, Bhadarwah, Ramban, Banihal and Baramulla) and Jawahar tunnel," the statement read.
The divisional commissioner has directed the deputy commissioners of all districts to advise people living in avalanche-prone areas not to venture out to avoid the loss of lives.
"Further, the DCs are directed to activate their control rooms and ensure snow clearance equipments are placed at proper places for snow clearance in respect of their districts as per the snow clearance plan," the statement read, adding: Besides, they are also requested to take all precautionary measures and keep the SDRF, police and para-medical staff with ambulances in readiness to avert any untoward incident".