Most parts of Kashmir received fresh snowfall and rains on Friday leading to the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway and impacting the flight operations to and fro the Valley, officials said here.
While the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir experienced moderate to heavy snowfall, many areas in the plains received light to moderate snowfall, they said. The fresh snowfall started early in the morning and continued till the last reports came in, they said. The famous ski resort of Gulmarg, tourist resorts of Pahalgam and Sonamarg and many other places experienced fresh snowfall, they said.
The upper reaches of Srinagar also received snowfall, while the plain areas were lashed by rains. The inclement weather has resulted in the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway – the only all-weather road connecting the Valley with the rest of the country, the officials said.
The highway was closed for traffic due to landslides in Mehar area of Ramban district and slippery conditions of the road, they said. The officials said road clearance operations are going on but continuous snowfall and rain are making the job difficult. The weather conditions also affected the air traffic at the Srinagar airport here, they said. While flight operations took place in the morning, the operations were affected after 9 am. Several flights have been delayed due to low visibility, the officials said.
The operations will resume after the visibility improves, they added. Meanwhile, the wet weather pushed the night temperature up at most places in the Valley. The mercury settled above the freezing point in Srinagar and Qazigund. Srinagar recorded a low of 1 degree Celsius on Thursday night, up from minus 0.2 degrees the night before, the officials said. Qazigund, the gateway to the Valley, registered a minimum temperature of 0.2 degrees Celsius, while Kokernag in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 0.2 degrees, they said.
The minimum in Kupwara, a frontier district, settled above the freezing point at a low of minus 0.7 degrees. Pahalgam in Anantnag district, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath Yatra, registered a low of minus 2.4 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature in Gulmarg in Baramulla district was recorded at minus 0.6 degrees Celsius, up from minus 5.5 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
The MeT Office had said that fairly widespread light rain in the plains of Kashmir and Jammu divisions and light to moderate snow over the higher reaches is expected on Friday. The weather will remain mainly dry from Saturday till January 18.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai Kalan', the 40-day harshest weather period when the chances of snowfall are maximum and most frequent. Chillai Kalan begins on December 21 and ends on January 30. The cold wave continues even after that with a 20-day-long 'Chillai Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day-long 'Chillai Bachha' (baby cold) following it.