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Steady snowfall blankets Kashmir, Jammu-Srinagar highway shut down

An unusually warm February in Kashmir had sparked fears of a possible water scarcity in the summer.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2018 20:44 IST
Ashiq Hussain
Ashiq Hussain
Hindustan Times, Srinagar
kashmir,Snowfall,Chillai Kalan
A man rides a scooter in Srinagar as it snows on Monday. (Waseem Andrabi /HT Photo)

Kashmir was draped in white on Monday after heavy snowfall through the day which also brought much cheer to the people reeling under a dry winter till now.

Snow started accumulating in the Valley’s meadows and mountains and on the trees from early morning.

“Allah finally heard our prayers. If there was no snow, our summers would have been very difficult. This snowfall will at least replenish our water reservoirs to some extent,” said Khatija, a 72-year-old vegetable grower in Srinagar.

She said the precipitation will help soil to gain moisture necessary for crop production in spring which is days away now. “The soil had become extremely dry as if some fire was burnt on its surface,” she said, pointing to her crop land on the periphery of the Dal Lake.

A Kashmiri man with an umbrella in Srinagar as it snows on Monday. (Waseem Andrabi /HT Photo)

Kashmir’s harsh winter period – Chilai Kalan – which starts from December 21 and ends by January 31 was mostly dry this time.

Meteorological officials in Srinagar said that almost all parts of the Kashmir Valley received moderate to heavy snowfall on Monday. The Met office has forecast snowfall for the next 24 hours.

The day’s record showed that it snowed 17 cm in Qazigund, 13 cm in Pahalgam in south Kashmir and 16 cm in capital Srinagar. North Kashmir’s Gulmarg received 30 cm while it snowed 6 cm in the frontier district of Kupwara.

The snow also led to the shutdown of the Jammu-Srinagar highway, the main road link between Kashmir and the rest of the country. Officials said that no vehicular traffic will be allowed for the time being on the highway due to continuous snowfall near the Jawahar tunnel.

The inclement weather also prevented the army from transporting the bodies of soldiers killed in the attack on the in Sunjuwan military station in Jammu to their native places in Kashmir.

A Kashmiri boatman rows his boat as it snows on Monday. (Waseem Andrabi / HT Photo)

According to meteorological data Kashmir was 60% deficient in snow and rains this winter before Monday’s snowfall. With temperatures in February hovering around 14 degree Celsius which is five degrees above average, it had sparked fears of early flower bloom and water scarcity in the summer that could have potentially devastated the Valley’s agricultural economy.

The snowfall has also added some zest to a two-day festival from February 17 by the state’s tourism’s department in Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district with many tourists making fresh bookings for holiday trips to Kashmir, the tourism department said.

Besides musical and cultural events, the festival will have other activities including village walks, shadow art show, tonga ride and live preparations of delicious ethnic food by local chefs, the department said in a statement.

First Published: Feb 12, 2018 20:01 IST