Cold Breaks 16 Year Record

Cold Breaks 16 Year Record

12 January 2012
Greater Kashmir
Imran Muzaffar

Srinagar: Breaking a 16-year-old record, the mercury in Kashmir Valley stayed below the freezing point for the fourth consecutive day Thursday. For past four nights and three days, the mercury has failed to reach zero degrees Celsius mark, leading to severe cold in Kashmir. In the summer capital Srinagar, the minimum temperature was recorded at minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, a drop of 0.5 degrees from last night, a MeT official said. The official said the maximum temperature has fallen below the freezing point in Srinagar and adjoining areas for the first time since 1995 when it plunged to minus 2.1 degrees Celsius. The Dal Lake was frozen at many places and some Shikaras (boats) were stuck in the frost. 'Another western disturbance on Saturday will result in light to moderate snowfall on Sunday,' said Sonam Lotus, director of the local weather office here. North Kashmir's Gulmarg resort recorded a low of minus 16.4 degrees Celsius, an decrease of 1.6 degrees from last night. In Pahalgam resort of south Kashmir, mercury touched a low of minus 12.1 degrees Celsius, the official said, a drop of 1.4 degrees from yesterday. The south Kashmir gateway town of Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 7.2 degrees Celsius, while north Kashmir's frontier Kupwara town recorded a low of minus 3.9 degrees Celsius, the official said. Residents of the Valley have been making extra efforts to keep themselves warm from the extreme weather using more woolens and burning small fires by roadsides to beat the cold. Kashmir has been witnessing the harshest part of winter, locally called Chillai-Kalan, a 40-day period which began in late December and lasts throughout January. Water supply was affected as the chilling weather froze the supply pipes to houses. Meanwhile, mercury in Leh town of remote Ladakh region had plunged to a minimum of minus 10.4 degrees Celsius while the minimum temperature in adjoining Kargil district was recorded at extreme minus 18.0 degrees Celsius, the official said. The official said weather will remain dry and severe cold will engulf the valley during the next two days. HIGHWAY OPEN However, the shortage of essentials which had hit the valley in wake of recent snowfall and subsequent closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway is likely to would ease up in the valley as around 2000 goods laden trucks from Jammu arrived here today. The officials said the slippery road conditions continued to affect the vehicular movement on the highway. “Vehicles stranded on the highway have been let through the Jawahar tunnel as one way traffic has been made successful with the continuing work on road clearance,” Inspector General of Police (Traffic), HK Lohia told Greater Kashmir. Trucks carrying the essential goods, he said, have been let through the Jawahar Tunnel. “Almost 1800 to 2000 goods trucks have been let through the tunnel which had been caught in the slippery road,” Lohia said. The IGP said they were continuously working on the road widening on the highway. “We are trying our level best to get some more space so that more vehicles are let through. We have been using salt for immediate clearance,” he said and added; “Passengers intending to travel to Jammu by road on Friday should first get in touch with the Traffic Control Room in Srinagar to ascertain the status of the highway. If they are allowed to proceed they should abide by the directions passed on to them.” Meanwhile, air traffic at Srinagar International Airport remained normal today with all the flights operating successfully, officials said.