Kashmir witnesses first snowfall of 2019, Jammu-Srinagar highway closed
The 294-kilometre Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the Mughal Road, which connects Jammu’s Poonch and Rajouri districts with south Kashmir’s Shopian, have been closed for vehicular traffic after the fresh snowfall, officials said.Updated: Jan 03, 2019 10:51 IST
Kashmir received its first snowfall of the New Year on Wednesday, breaking a month-long dry spell in the Valley, the meteorological (MeT) department said.
The 294-kilometre Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the Mughal Road, which connects Jammu’s Poonch and Rajouri districts with south Kashmir’s Shopian, have been closed for vehicular traffic after the fresh snowfall, officials said.
Officials said Banihal and Ramban districts started receiving rain since early hours while more than six inches of snow had accumulated on both sides of Jawahar Tunnel-key link between Jammu and Srinagar regions, resulting in foggy and slippery road conditions.
“There was snowfall at most places in Kashmir, particularly in Gulmarg and Pahalgam tourist resorts, traces of snowfall was also witnessed in Srinagar early in the morning” an official said.
As a precautionary measure all Kashmir-bound vehicles were stopped at Nagrota and Udhampur, the officials said. Owing to security and safety of the passengers, vehicular movement from both Kashmir as well as Jammu side on the highway had been suspended since Wednesday morning.
“We have suspended traffic on the highway keeping in view the safety of the commuters”, said Ramban deputy superintendent of police(traffic) Suresh Sharma.
The closure of the highway left more than 700 vehicles, including 250 passengers vehicles stranded at Udhampur.
“As on Wednesday, one way traffic from Jammu towards Srinagar was allowed. Post snowfall , no vehicle was allowed to move towards Jammu or Udhampur, barring few vehicles carrying train passengers for BanihalSrinagar route,” the DSP said.
Meanwhile, the 86km-long Mughal road which connects Shopian in south Kashmir with Rajouri and Poonch districts was also closed on Tuesday.
According to Mughal Road Project chief engineer, the road has been closed for vehicular traffic between Chandimarh in Poonch district of Jammu region and Heerpora village in Shopian district of Kashmir region from January 1.
Heavy snowfall predicted on January 4
The snowfall has brought major respite to the residents of Kashmir as the minimum temperature rose by several degrees, except in Gulmarg. Srinagar recorded a 0°C on Tuesday night -- an increase of over four degrees from minus 4.2 degrees Celsius on the previous night, the Met department said.
Met officials have predicted another spell of snowfall in the Valley from Friday onwards. The officials said the spell would be more heavy which could disrupt air and surface traffic. An advisory in this regards has already been issued.
“Moderate rain/snow is expected at widespread places of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh region state with possibility of heavy snowfall in isolated places with maximum intensity and spread on 4th and 5th January and gradual decrease thereafter,” the weather office predicted.
Kargil coldest at minus 17 degree Celsius
Gulmarg received snowfall equivalent to 8.8 mm of rains till 8.30 am, while Kupwara recorded 7.4 mm precipitation. The remaining weather stations recorded downpour between 1.5-2.5 mm during the corresponding period, the official said.
Kargil was the coldest place in Jammu and Kashmir at minus 17.0 °C . The night temperature in Leh town in Ladakh region was -12.4 °C .
On Tuesday night, Qazigund in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius, Kokernag town -1.4 degrees, Kupwara 0.2 degrees, Pahalgam -0.5 degrees and Gulmarg at -5.0 °C , the official said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’, the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
The period ends on January 31, The weather department has predicted more precipitation in Kashmir over the next three days.
First Published: Jan 03, 2019 10:50 IST