The first snowfall in different areas in Kashmir valley on Wednesday had the authorities scurrying for measures to ensure snow clearance at vital points and roads in the valley.
Srinagar and most valley towns were lashed by rains since morning while many rural pockets and tourists places received season's first snowfall. "This will help increase the night temperatures across the valley, bringing relief to the people who had been experiencing dry, cold weather for over a month," said Srinagar-based meteorological director Sonum Lotus.
Kashmir was reeling under sub-zero temperature for the past one week. Minimum temperature in Srinagar was 1.7 degrees Celsius on Wednesday while it was zero degree in South Kashmir's Pahalgam hill station and minus 4 degrees in North Kashmir's Gulmarg ski resort. Leh town of Ladakh region recorded a minimum of minus 10.6 degrees while Kargil town in the same region recorded minus 7.2 degrees.
Meanwhile, the valley tourists hub Gulmarg received 5 inches of snow, Gurez 4 inches, Sedow 6 inches and Hirpora 5 inches. "The mechanical engineering department started snow clearance on Gulmarg-Tangmarg road. Snow clearance was carried out at Sedow and Hirpora," said disaster management cell head Amir Ali.
The Sonmarg-Zojila-Gumri road recorded around 6 to 10 inches of snow. "The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway is open for traffic. Vehicular traffic has been suspended on Bandipora-Gurez road, Kokernag-Simthen road and Kupwara-Tangdhar road. All flights including Hajj flights operated normally," said Ali.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon said 93 snow clearance machines are available besides snow ploughs and snow cutters.
The authorities have established snow control rooms at all deputy commissioners in all districts. Samoon directed snow clearance of roads leading to Public Health Engineering plants including Rangil, Alastaing, Doodganga and Nishat should be taken up on first priority.
"Restoration of supply to hospitals and essential services including dewatering stations should be carried out immediately," said Samoon.