Heavy snowfall following the overnight downpour crippled the normal life in mountainous areas of the state on Sunday with the electricity supply disrupted, roads blocked, air connections cut off and examinations postponed. City residents woke up to a snowy morning. Slippery roads affected normal traffic flow on the city's main circular road, delaying supplies of daily commodities.
Fallen branches and uprooted trees affected power supply in the city and its vicinity. Branches broken from a tree fell on the electricity cables near Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh's official residence. There was no traffic beyond Dhalli and vehicular traffic to upper Shimla region, including Kufri, Fagu, Theog, Narkanda, Chopal, Jubbal-Kotkhai and Rohru has been suspended.
Vehicular traffic was also disrupted in Shimla, forcing residents to walk long distances. Many tourists who had come to witness the snowfall could not go beyond the Shimla as the roads were thrown open for traffic only in late afternoon. In wake of the snow fall, a few schools in the city will remain close on Monday. Snowfall also hit the tourist towns of Kullu and Manali.
Traffic on the Manali-Kiratpur highway was adversely affected following the snowfall and the road to Manali beyond Patlikhul remained closed for traffic. Due to the inclement weather flights to Kullu were cancelled. There was no electricity supply in Kullu and Manali, which further affected communications.
Kufri recorded 45 centimeters of snow, Narkanda 55 cm, Baghi and Ratnari 50 cm each, and Kharapathar experienced 85 cm. In Kullu, Kasol experienced 20 cm of snowfall. In tribal Kinnaur district snowfall continued throughout day. Kalpa experienced 38 cm and Keylong recorded 31cm of snowfall.
The unexpected snowfall on the Rohtang pass on Saturday trapped about 300 vehicles and nearly 1,500 tourists were stranded in the Beas Nullah and Gulaba areas just ahead of the Rohtang pass. However, all of them were evacuated safely and the rescue operation was on till 2 am. About 30 tourists who were unable to walk their way down from Gulaba were lodged in Marhi.
“No tourist is stranded in Rohtang and some of them have been safely placed in Marhi,” superintendent of police Kullu Surinder Verma said. Snow also crippled life in the tourist town of Manali.
Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh University postponed the undergraduate and postgraduate exams scheduled from December 15 to 17 due to the heavy rainfall. “The government has also postponed the annual examinations scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at primary schools,” Principal Secretary Education PC Dhiman said.
Several buses of the state run Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) were stranded at various places in Shimla, Kullu, Kinnaur Chamba, Sirmaur and Lahaul & Spiti districts. An HRTC official said nearly 10 buses were stranded in Fagu, Narkanda and Kharapathar while buses were not plying on around 50 routes due to the snowfall.
A fresh spell of snow brought the temperature down by several notches. Shimla experienced the coldest night and residents shivered in the 0.4 degree Celsius temperature, while Manali recorded a minimum temperature at 0 degree Celsius. The lowest temperature was recorded at Kalpa (-2.8 degrees) while Keylong recorded a minimum of -2.2 degrees.
The meteorological department has forecast more snow on Monday at higher altitude areas and moderate rainfall in the middle and lower reaches. Met director Manmohan Singh said heavy snow was predicted for Sunday. “On Monday, there will be light to moderate snowfall in the higher altitude areas of the state,” he added.
Meanwhile, Himachal Pradesh University on Sunday postponed under graduate (ug) and post graduate (PG) exams that were scheduled between December 15 to 17, due to heavy snowfall.