Kashmir continued to reel under an intense cold wave on Saturday, with Srinagar recording the season's coldest night at minus 6.8 degrees Celsius, even as Meteorological department predicted light to moderate snowfall and rains in next 48 hours.
"Cold conditions will last for some more days," Director of MeT department in Srinagar, Sonam Lotus, told Greater Kashmir. He said in next 48 hours, "we are expecting light to moderate snowfall in plains of Kashmir and heavy snowfall in the higher reaches."
Lotus said that snowfall and rains might affect surface and air-traffic. "There are likely chances of blockade of Srinagar-Jammu highway," he said, adding: "On January 16, air traffic will likely be disrupted by the bad weather conditions."
MeT officials said snow and rains would occur as fresh Western Disturbance has started affecting Kashmir and is "active."
"By evening of January 14, weather activity will start making an appearance," they said.
IMD PREDICTS WIDESPREAD SNOW IN JAMMU REGION
The Indian Meteorological Department predicted fairly widespread snow and rains for upper hills and plains of Jammu region.
"From Sunday evening, Western Disturbance will dominate the weather condition and there are chances of fairly widespread to widespread snowfall on high and mid hills across the state for two days," said Dr Mahender Singh, weather scientist and in-charge Agrometeorology department of IMD at SKUAST-Jammu.
"Plains of Jammu region will experience moderate to heavy rain from January 15 to January 16 evening," he said, adding: "At some places there would be a strong hailstorm."
"The weather conditions will improve from Tuesday afternoon," he said.
"From January 17, the effect of Western Disturbance would fade and weather would likely improve accordingly in the coming days," he said.
"January month will experience 2-3 spells of rain and snow," Singh said, adding: "This would help recharge ground water resources and benefit agriculture."
He said due to fresh weather pattern, the minimum temperatures are likely to dip further.
"There could be further dip in minimum temperature over the next 48 hours," the Singh said.
Meanwhile, Srinagar registered the coldest night of the season so far as minimum temperatures dropped to minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
"Kargil town in Ladakh region recorded minus 15.6 degrees Celsius as the night's lowest while Gulmarg and Pahalgam recorded minus 14.4 and minus 12 degree Celsius respectively," they said.
The further dip in temperatures in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir on Saturday resulted in freezing of most water bodies including Srinagar's famed Dal Lake. The drinking water taps and supply pipes also froze at many places during the night, leading to water shortage in several areas, reports and witnesses said.
MeT officials said the ski-resort of Gulmarg in Baramulla district also recorded the season's lowest night temperature as the mercury there settled at a low of minus 14.4 degrees Celsius, down from minus 13.6 degrees Celsius on the previous night. They said the resort was the coldest place in Kashmir and it was the lowest night temperature there in the month of January since 2012. In 2012, they said, Gulmarg recorded the lowest night temperature on January 13 when the mercury settled at minus 16.5 degrees Celsius.
The MeT officials said the temperatures in hilly resort of Pahalgam in Anantnag went slightly up from the previous night's minus 12.4 degrees Celsius and settled at the low of minus 12.0 degrees Celsius. They said the minimum temperature at the resort was still a three-year-low in January.
They said Kokernag in same district registered a low of minus 8.3 degrees Celsius while Kupwara town in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 7.8 degrees Celsius, a degree down from the previous night's minus 6.8 degrees Celsius. Officials said it was the lowest night temperature of the season recorded in Kupwara and the town experienced the coldest January night in the past six years.
The minimum temperature was minus 17 degree Celsius in Leh, the coldest town in the state on Saturday.
Meanwhile, as per bulletin issued by MeT department, Bhaderwah recorded a minimum temperature of minus 4.5 degree Celsius and remained coldest place in Jammu region while its neighbouring Banihal and Batote recorded minimum temperature of minus 2.8 and 0.5 degree Celsius respectively.
The minimum temperature in the winter capital Jammu settled at 3.6 degree Celsius while it was 4.8 degree Celsius in Katra.
Traffic Department officials here said keeping in view the condition of highway especially between Udhampur and Ramsoo, only one-way movement of heavy vehicles is possible on the thoroughfare.
"In view of the above and keeping in view the safety of the commuters and subject to fair weather and good condition of road, the following traffic plan shall be observed on Srinagar- Jammu highway on Sunday. Movement of HMVs (excluding Trailers and multi-axle vehicles) including of convoys of Army, BSF, CRPF etc shall be allowed from Srinagar towards Jammu side in a regulated manner. Movement of all such types of vehicles shall be allowed from Levdora, Qazugund from 0800 hours upto 1300 hours only. No movement of HMVs including that of convoys of Army, BSF, CRPF etc. shall be allowed from Jammu towards Srinagar side on Sunday under any circumstances," a spokesman said.
Traffic officials said in order to facilitate the passengers, movement of LMVs and light passenger vehicles shall be allowed both ways.
"As such movement of all such vehicles (excluding buses and Tempo Travellers) shall be allowed from Nagrota Jammu towards Srinagar side from 0500 hours up to 1400 hours and at Udhampur up to 1530 hours only. However, the movement of vehicles bound for Doda/ Kishtwar only shall be allowed at Nagrota up to 1500 hours and at Udhampur up to 1630 hours. Further, movement of all types of LMVs/passenger vehicles from Srinagar towards Jammu side shall be allowed at Levdora, Qazigund from 0800 hours up to 1500 hours only," the spokesman said. "Strict implementation of cut-off timings shall be ensured for hassle free movement of traffic on the Highway."
JCR ESTABLISHED AT ANANTNAG
Following the fresh weather predictions, the district administration Anantnag has established a Joint Control Room (JCR) at DC Office under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner Revenue.
Officials said that general public seeking any help or assistance may contact on 18001807054 (Toll Free), 01932-222337 (DC Office), 9419055006, 9419047052, 01932-222870 (PCR Anantnag) and 01931-260160 (PCR Kulgam).
Besides, they said, people can also get help to resolve their problems from Executive Engineer, R&B Division Khanabal (9797290107), Executive Engineer, R&B Division Qazigund (9419009685), Executive Engineer, PDD Anantnag (9419412692), Executive Engineer, PHE Division Bijbehara (9419027558), Executive Engineer, Mechanical Division Anantnag (9419052351), Tehsildar, Headquarter Assistant with Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag (9858309785), D.O. Police Post Mir-Bazar (9596767958)
The Sub-Divisional Magistrates have also been directed to establish Control Rooms within their jurisdiction and keep close liaison with the headquarter Control Room, a spokesman said.
ADVISORY ISSUED FOR GANDERBAL
Officials said in wake of the present weather system (Western Disturbance) active over J&K, the district administration Ganderbal has issued weather advisory and asked people residing in Kangan sub-division, particularly from Gund to Sonamarg, and Tehsil Lar in Watlar, Waliwar, Chountiwaliwar, Chathangulabpora not to venture near slopes of hilly areas and other avalanche-prone areas. Under the influence of this disturbance, Moderate and Heavy Rain/Snowfall is likely to occur in higher reaches of the State.
"The administration has also enjoined upon District Police & Traffic Police, SDM Kangan, all the Tehsildars and District Disaster Management Committee to be in full preparedness and activate their men and machinery so that normal life does not get disrupted," they said.
SNOW CLEARANCE REVIEWED IN PULWAMA
Deputy Commissioner Pulwama, Muneer-ul-Islam, on Saturday chaired a meeting to review snow clearance preparedness in the district in view of snow forecast in Kashmir.
Officials said engineers of R&B, PMGSY, Mechanical Department, Executive Officer Municipal Committee and other concerned attended the meeting.
The meeting, they said, discussed in detail measures to be taken in case of further snowfall, so that main roads and other link roads can be cleared of snow at an earliest.
(With inputs from Yogesh Saghotra)