The Kashmir Valley's connectivity with the rest of the country was restored on Saturday with the Srinagar-Jammu national highway reopening for traffic and flight operations also resuming here a day after a snowfall, officials said.
Air traffic to and from the Kashmir Valley was restored after the airport was cleared of snow and visibility improved. However, several morning flights were delayed and some were cancelled. "The snow from the runway, taxiway and apron has been cleared and the visibility has improved up to 3,000 metres. Flight operations have resumed," an official said.
The Srinagar-Jammu national highway -- the only all-weather road connecting the Valley with the rest of the country -- has been reopened for traffic after the snow was shovelled off, officials said. While the higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir experienced moderate to heavy snowfall on Friday, many other areas, including Srinagar, received light snow.
Meanwhile, night temperatures settled below the freezing point across the Valley. Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.1 degrees Celsius on Friday night, down from 1 degree Celsius the night before. Qazigund, the gateway to the Valley, registered a minimum temperature of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius, while Kokernag in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 1.2 degrees Celsius. The minimum in Kupwara, a frontier district, settled at minus 3.6 degrees Celsius. Pahalgam in Anantnag district, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath Yatra, registered a low of minus 5.9 degrees Celsius – down from minus 2.4 degrees Celsius a night earlier.
The minimum temperature at Gulmarg in Baramulla district went down over 10 notches from minus 0.6 degrees Celsius to settle at minus 11 degrees Celsius making it the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir. The meteorological office said the weather will remain partly cloudy with moderate to dense fog over the plains of Jammu on Saturday. Fresh feeble western disturbances are likely to affect Jammu and Kashmir from January 19 to 25. Light to moderate rain or snow is likely between January 23 and 24t, it said.
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' and a 10-day-long 'Chillai Bachha' following it.