Ladakh's Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, experienced the season's first snowfall on Sunday.
It started snowing in Drass and its adjoining areas, including Zojilla pass and Mina-Marg along the 434-km Srinagar-Leh national highway, in the morning and so far two to four inches of snow has accumulated on the ground, officials said.
However, the traffic on the Srinagar-Leh national highway was progressing smoothly till last reports were received.
The early snowfall this year caused concern among the residents of Drass who said the winter stocking of essential commodities was not completed yet.
"The early closure of the Srinagar-Leh highway, the lifeline of Ladakh, might trigger scarcity of essentials as the outbreak of COVID-19 delayed the stocking operations this year, Abdul Majeed, a resident of the area, said.
A government official said if weather permits, the administration would try its best to keep the highway open for a longer duration this time.
"Last year, the highway was closed on November 9 following snowfall but reopened and kept open till December 10. The process of stocking of essential commodities is continuing and every effort will be made to keep the highway open for a longer duration to provide enough time for the refilling of the stocks," he said.
He said the local administration would review the situation later and if the need arises, the traffic will be stopped on the highway. "If the snowfall continues for the next few hours, we will be forced to stop traffic on the highway as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident due to slippery conditions," he said.