For the past 72 hours, the state of Himachal Pradesh has been witnessing heavy rainfall accompanied by hailstorms and has broken a 42-year-old record.
On Friday morning, Himachal also saw snowfall that has left a devastating impact on the state’s apple crop.
Rainfall and snow in districts including Kotkhai, Jubbal, Rohru, Narkanda, Rampur, Thanedar and Chopal have left the apple plants significantly damaged.
Dr Vijay Singh Thakur, an orchardist and former Vice-Chancellor of Dr Y S Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, said, “The plants this time are loaded with fruits and leaves. I can see before my eyes how the snow this morning wreaked havoc, not alone on the produce but on the plants as well“.
The snowfall and drop in the temperature to zero degrees C are extremely bad for the fruits.
“We don’t witness snowfall in the month of April. This is happening at least after 50 to 60 years. The rain too has not stopped for almost 70 hours now. Some areas even saw hailstorms. The apple belt is in ruins”, he said.
The Meteorological Department (MeT) had predicted rainfall, thunder, and hailstorm in several parts of the state and snowfall in the tribal belt apart from high altitude mountains.
Dr Manmohan Singh, Director, Shimla station of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that Shimla had received 42 percent more rain than the normal rainfall received every year.
“Till Thursday we recorded 86 mm of rain, which broke the single-day record (in April) after 42 years. Before this, the capital town had received a maximum rainfall of 111 mm on April 15, in 1979. The temperature in Shimla dropped to 4°C, which is also a record in April”, he said.
In Manali, rain and snowfall have paralysed normal life, blocking several roads and highways, particularly the Manali-Leh road.
A five-story building collapsed in Shimla's Sanjauli area this morning after heavy rainfall in the area. No human loss was reported as local authorities had got the building vacated seeing chances of an imminent collapse.
“The snowfall in Manali has broken a 25-year-old record. The last record for snowfall in the month of April was broken in 1996. It is unfortunate that the Covid spurt has affected the tourist arrivals in Kullu-Manali, otherwise, this would have been the best attraction for hoteliers to grab the attention of tourists to the valley”, says Anil Kant, a hotelier in Manali.
Due to a spike in Covid cases, many hoteliers have closed down their operations already though officially the government has ruled out any lockdown or night curfew. Even the borders have been kept open to the outsiders.
The tribal district of Lahaul-Spiti also received heavy snowfall on Friday, a day after the district administration had carried out a major rescue operation to save the lives of 244 persons including migrant workers and truck drivers who got stranded on the Manali-Leh highway due to heavy snowfall.
Because of untimely rainfall and snow, Himachal Pradesh is witnessing wintry conditions which is a rare thing in the April-May months.
Tourist destinations of Narkanda and Kufri also received snowfall.
The minimum temperature in Keylong in the Lahaul-Spiti district was recorded at minus 1.4 degrees Celsius, the coldest in the state with 20 cm of snowfall. Kalpa (Kinnaur) recorded a minimum of minus 0.5 degrees and 15 cm of snowfall.
Experts have predicted clear weather on Saturday.
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