Snow forces highway closure

Snowfall continued in Kashmir for the second consecutive day Thursday, leading to the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway and cancellation of several flights at the Srinagar airport.
Snow forces highway closure
Photo: Mohammad Taskeen/GK

Snowfall continued in Kashmir for the second consecutive day Thursday, leading to the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway and cancellation of several flights at the Srinagar airport. The local meteorological department has, however, predicted improvement in weather conditions from Friday.

Srinagar recorded 4cm snow, Qazigund 27cm, Pahalgam 4cm, Kupwara 3cm, Kokernag 10cm, Gulmarg 7cm, Banihal 8cm and Batote 3cm, a meteorological department official said here.

"The precipitation activity will decrease from late Friday afternoon and weather will start improving thereafter," he said, adding that there can be light to moderate snowfall in the Valley during the next 24 hours.

The 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu highway—the only surface link of Kashmir with rest of the country—was closed again due to fresh snowfall and landslides in several areas since early Thursday morning.

"About 1500 trucks are stranded on the road," superintendent of traffic police (rural) Muzaffer Ahmad Shah told Greater Kashmir.

He said the traffic was suspended on Thursday morning due to fresh snowfall on both sides of the Jawahar tunnel, Shaitan Nallah and Banihal, and rains in Ramban area.

Snow has accumulated at Jawahar tunnel due to which the road has become very slippery, he said.

He said the Banihal to Ramban stretch, particularly Aknokhi Fall, Digdol and Penthal areas, is badly affected.

"The opening of the road depends on weather conditions," Shah said, adding the intending travellers must contact traffic control units on Friday morning to know about the status of the road before embarking on their journeys.

For the past more than a week, reports of chaotic traffic on the highway regularly have kept pouring in, with travellers alleging that traffic is being allowed from both sides despite the road being officially open for one-way traffic only.

The closure of the road has resulted in a shortage of essentials like cooking gas, vegetables and mutton in the Valley areas, according to reports.

Meanwhile, snowfall and poor visibility forced cancellation of many flights at the Srinagar airport Thursday, senior superintendent of police, Srinagar airport, Tahir Saleem Khan told Greater Kashmir.

He said that nine flights arrived and two took off from the airport.

FRESH AVALANCHE WARNING

In view of the fresh snowfall, the divisional administration Kashmir Thursday issued an avalanche warning for hilly and avalanche-prone areas of Kashmir Valley, Leh and Kargil districts.

The administration said the concerned deputy commissioners have been asked to take precautionary measures in their respective districts and advise people not to venture in avalanche-prone areas during the aforementioned period and monitor the situation regularly to avert any untoward incident.    

Meanwhile, a Met official said the minimum temperature in Srinagar was minus 0.3 degree Celsius, while in Pahalgam and Gulmarg it was minus 2.7 degree Celsius and minus 6 degree Celsius, respectively.

Leh town in Ladakh region recorded minus 9.1 degree Celsius, Kargil minus 18.4 degree Celsius and Drass minus 14.9 degree Celsius, respectively.

Jammu recorded 10.1 degree Celsius, Katra 8.2 degree Celsius, Batote and Banihal 0.3 degree Celsius and Bhaderwah 1.2 degree Celsius, the official said.

RAINS LASH RAJOURI, POONCH

Meanwhile, continuous rains and snowfall disrupted normal life in Rajouri and Poonch districts of Jammu province for the second consecutive day Thursday.

The higher reaches of Rajouri including Darhal, Thanamandi, Kotranka and Budhal received fresh snowfall, intensifying the cold wave conditions.

Rains also lashed low-lying areas of Poonch for the second day, while fresh snowfall badly affected normal life at Loran and Saujiyan areas of the district, where vehicular traffic was also disrupted at some locations.

LIFE DISRUPTED IN KANGAN

The day-long snowfall disrupted life and caused fresh snow accumulation across Kangan area of Ganderbal district on Thursday.

Three-inch fresh snow accumulated in Kangan town, 5-inch in Gund market and 6-inch at Naranag and Gagangeer areas, leading several roads connecting Wangat, Chhatergul, Akhal, Gund, Kulan in a slippery condition.

Reports of snowfall disrupting electricity supply also came in from upper belts of Kangan, including Chhatergul-Bala, Naranag and Rezan.

(With Sheikh Nazir in Kangan)

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