Shimla, Jan 23 The Queen of the Hills, as Shimla was called by the British, recorded the highest snowfall on a single day in January in the past 15 years, a Met official said here on Wednesday.
Manmohan Singh, Director of the meteorological office here, told that the town recorded 44.5 cm of snowfall on January 22, the highest in the first month of the year since 2004.
"The maximum snow in 24 hours in January was previously recorded in 2004. It was 57.7 cm on January 23," he said.
He said snow and heavy rain in the region in the past two days was mainly due to induced cyclonic circulation with the western disturbances.
As per records of the Met office, Shimla did not see snow for two consecutive years in January from 2006.
In 2008, there was just one cm snowfall throughout January, while it was 8.7 cm in 2009, 1.8 cm in 2010 and 8.5 cm in 2011.
In 2005, there was 94.3 cm of snowfall in January but it was spread over seven days. In 2004, 96.6 cm of snowfall was recorded in the whole of January.
In 2017, there was 65.6 cm of snowfall in Shimla but it was spread across two days -- January 7 and 8.
As per Met office records, Shimla experienced 62 cm of snowfall on February 12, 2007, the highest on a single day in the past 99 years.
Old-timers recalled that for almost two decades, Shimla has not recorded the kind of heavy snow that used to paralyse life in winter for over a fortnight in the past.
M.R. Kaundal, a retired government employee who settled in Shimla in 1945, said till the 1980s, heavy snow was a normal feature of the town.
"As far as I remember, the last time it occurred was during the winter of 1990-91 when the town was cut off from the rest of the country for more than two weeks due to snow," he said.
Another resident, Neha Sood, said: "Yesterday's (Tuesday) snowfall in Shimla reminds me of my childhood days when a storm dumped more than a foot of snow in a single spell."
As heavy snow has eluded this erstwhile summer capital of British India in recent times, the "snow manual" of the administration, followed since the British Raj, has virtually been lying in cold storage, admit officials.
The Shimla Snow Manual lists the responsibilities and duties of the administration during snow such as the setting up of control rooms, deploying men and machinery to clear roads and pathways as well as maintaining power and drinking water supplies.
This time the electricity was snapped in several localities of Shimla owing to falling of trees on supply lines. Water supply was also hampered.
The district administration, before the onset of winter every year, holds a meeting to review measures and assign duties to handle any emergency in case of heavy snow.
Officials admit that for the past several decades, this meeting -- called the snow manual meeting -- had become a mere ritual.
"Over the years, the intensity of snowfall in Shimla has decreased. So the snow manual has lost its relevance," said an official who did not wish to be named.