Srinagar: Kashmir remained cut off from rest of the country for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the Mughal road remained closed, while air traffic was suspended due to heavy snowfall across the valley.
The snowfall began on Sunday and continued in many areas when last reports came in, even as the MET Office said the weather is likely to improve later in the day.
“No traffic was allowed on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway due to accumulation of snow and landslides at many places,” an official of the traffic control room said.
He said the highway was blocked due to snow accumulation at Jawahar Tunnel and landslides/mudslides/shooting stones at Samroli, Magarkot, Panthyal, Marog, Cafeteria Mor, Dhalwas and Nashri.
The snow clearance operations were in full swing and efforts were on to restore movement of stranded vehicles along the 260 kilometre road, the official said.
Mughal Road, which connects the valley to Jammu division through Shopian-Rajouri axis, has been closed for several days due to heavy snowfall in the region, officials said.
The officials said south Kashmir’s Kulgam district received highest snowfall with five to six feet of snow accumulated at some places.
Anantnag district has also received heavy snowfall, they said.
The areas in south Kashmir, followed by central, received heavy snowfall compared to the areas in the north of the valley, the officials said.
Srinagar city has witnessed heavy snowfall for the past three days, even as the snow clearance operations have been ongoing along inter-district routes as well as major roads linking tehsil headquarters to district headquarters.
While the administration has ensured that most of the essential services were least affected, the heavy snowfall has resulted in snapping of electricity in many areas across the valley, the officials said.
There was less movement of traffic due to slippery roads.
The flight operations to and from Srinagar remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day due to poor visibility and accumulation of snow, the officials said.
However, the MET Office has said the weather is likely to improve from later on Wednesday.
Weather is improving gradually and the significant improvement is expected from today afternoon onwards, a MET official said.
He said light rain/snow may occur at scattered places of Jammu and Kashmir over the next 24 hrs.
However, there was no forecast of any major snowfall from Thursday till January 14, he said.
The minimum temperature improved in most places in the valley due to the snowfall but still stayed below the freezing point, the officials said.
Srinagar city — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir — recorded a low of minus 0.9 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 3.5 degrees Celsius compared to minus 4 degrees Celsius a night earlier.
Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 1.2 degrees Celsius.
Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 0.7 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, minus 1.0 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.
While ‘Chillai-Kalan’ which began on December 21 — will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).