Fresh And Heavy Snowfall: Kashmir Cut Off From Country

Fresh And Heavy Snowfall: Kashmir Cut Off From Country

31 December 2013
Deccan Chronicle


Srinagar: Kashmir Valley was on Tuesday cut off from the rest of the country as heavy snowfall forced closure of arterial Srinagar-Jammu national highway and led to the cancellation of all flights going in and out of the summer capital. The snowfall, which began in the wee hours, also disrupted normal life in the Valley with authorities snapping electricity to many parts as a precautionary measure. Although the fresh snowfall brought much-needed respite from the cold wave to the residents of the Valley and cheer to New Year revellers, the snowfall led to the closure of many roads, including the 300-km Srinagar-Jammu national highway - the only road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, officials said. 'Over 2 ft of snow had accumulated around Jawahar Tunnel, the gateway to Kashmir Valley, till this afternoon,' a spokesman of the traffic department told PTI. He said the snowfall was continuing, which was hampering the efforts of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to clear the road of snow. 'Once the weather improves, fresh efforts will be made to make the road traffic-worthy,' the spokesman said. He said many far-flung areas of the Valley also remained cut off from the mainland due to heavy snowfall, ranging between six inches to three feet. An official at the Srinagar International Airport said the snowfall resulted in cancellation of all flights to and from the state's summer capital. 'We have cleared the runway but the bad weather led to the cancellation of all the flights scheduled for the day,' the official said. The residents of Srinagar and other parts of the Valley woke up to a thick blanket of snow. Over six inches of snow was recorded in Srinagar till Tuesday afternoon, while the high altitude areas of the Valley recorded over three feet of snow, the officials said. The famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded eight inches of fresh snow, while the famous hill resort of Pahalgam, which also serves as a base camp during annual Amarnath yatra, experienced one-and-a-half feet of snow till this afternoon, the officials said. Over three feet of snow was reported from the peripheral areas of Pahalgam, including the famous 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine. Hundreds of tourists who have arrived in the Valley to usher in the New Year rejoiced at the snowfall which, however, caught the snow clearance grid off-guard. Many tourists were seen taking pictures of snowfall in their cameras and mobile phones as 'snow men' sprang up in many parts of the city and elsewhere in the Valley. The snowfall brought respite to the people who were reeling under cold wave conditions as the mercury rose by several degrees. Srinagar city witnessed a nearly four degree jump in night temperature as the mercury settled at minus 1.4 degrees Celsius compared to minus 5.3 degree Celsius the previous night, a spokesman of the MeT office said. The minimum temperature in Pahalgam settled at minus 6.6 degrees Celsius, up from minus 9.0 degrees Celsius previous night, the spokesman said. The weather in Ladakh region, however, remained dry but the minimum temperature rose by several degrees in Leh town to settle at minus 12.0 degrees Celsius compared to previous night's minus 17.7 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said. The snowfall threw normal life out of gear as massive traffic jams were witnessed in many parts of the city and other major towns of the Valley. The traffic on Srinagar Airport road was moving at a snail's pace and traffic policemen were not visible at any of the intersections, leading to chaos.