Clouds continue to cover most parts of Kashmir, including Srinagar, even as the 40-day harshest winter period of ‘Chillai Kalan’ ended today during which the Valley witnessed heaviest snowfall in two decades, and avalanches that left 20 people, including 15 army personnel, dead.
Despite overnight rains and light snowfall in the higher reaches, one-way traffic on Srinagar-Jammu national highway – the only all-weather road link between Kashmir and rest of the country – remained smooth, but bad weather led to delay in resumption of air traffic to and from Srinagar international airport, officials said.
Kashmir valley experienced first heavy snowfall on January 6, which ended nearly five-month-long dry spell, providing relief to the people facing problems due to absence of rain or snow. Since then, Srinagar witnessed snowfall on six occasions.
The high altitude areas including famous ski resort of Gulmarg – an attraction for tourists visiting the Valley during winter – recorded heaviest snowfall in over 25 years with present depth of snow being around eight feet, officials said.
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The peripheral areas of Gulmarg along with other high altitude areas in the Valley experienced snowfall ranging between 15 to 20 feet this month, they said.
This is for the first time in over two decades that ‘Chillai-Kalan’ ended with snowfall in abundance, much to the delight of the people, especially the farming community and winter sports lovers.
For the last four years, Chillai Kalan had witnessed scant snowfall. It was one of the major reasons for low discharge in rivers and shortage of drinking water in the Valley, as snowfall during this 40-day period lasts for longer time due to freezing temperatures.
The ‘Chillai Kalan’ is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai- Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai Bachha’ (baby cold).
Last week’s heavy snowfall triggered avalanches in Sonamarg area of Ganderbal and Gurez in Bandipora district, resulting in death of 15 soldiers and four members of a family.
A civilian was killed in an avalanche in Uri sector of Baramulla district, while five soldiers were rescued alive after remaining trapped for several hours under snow in Macchil sector of Kupwara district on Saturday.
The Meteorological Department has predicted scattered rain or snow today, and fairly widespread rain or snow tomorrow.
“Another western disturbance is going to hit the Valley on February 4. Fairly widespread or widespread rain or snow is expected on the day along with February 5,” a MeT spokesman said, adding weather is expected to remain cloudy on February 1-3 with isolated rain or snow.
The mercury mostly stayed close to the freezing point at most of the places in Kashmir Division.
Leh, in frontier region of Ladakh, remained the coldest recorded place in the state with a low of minus 5.7 degrees Celsius, Gulmarg in north Kashmir was the coldest recorded place in the Valley with a minimum of minus 3.8 deg C, the spokesman said, adding Srinagar, which was lashed by rains last night, recorded a low of minus 0.4 deg C.
Despite rains in plains and light snowfall in upper reaches, the one-way traffic on Srinagar-Jammu national highway was going on smoothly, a spokesman of the Traffic department said.
The highway was opened for one-way traffic from Jammu to Srinagar yesterday after remaining closed for five days due to heavy snowfall and rains which also triggered landslides at several places between Banihal and Ramban stretch.
“Only Jammu-bound vehicles were allowed on the highway today and no vehicle was allowed from Jammu to Srinagar. The traffic is going on smoothly,” he said.
An Airport Authority of India official said all flights scheduled from Srinagar international airport today have been delayed due to bad weather.
“No flight operated so far due to bad weather. We are expecting resumption of air traffic later in the day,” he said.