Srinagar, Jan 2: World famous ski resort of Gulmarg and other parts of Kashmir valley, including tourist resorts of Pahalgam and Sonmarg, received fresh snowfall on Wednesday, ending the dry weather during the ongoing 40-day-long ‘Chillai Kalan’, the harshest period of the winter.
However, the minimum temperature improved considerable due to overcast conditions and settled above normal across Kashmir valley, including the summer capital, Srinagar, which only received light sleet (mixture of rain and snow).
The fresh snowfall and prediction of more wet weather has brought cheers to the hoteliers and other players of tourism industry as it will help in increasing the footfall of tourists in Kashmir valley.
A Met department spokesperson said that fairly widespread rain or snow could occur during the next 24 hours in Kashmir valley under the influence of a Western Disturbance (WD), which is active in the region. “The department has issued a weather warning in Jammu and Kashmir, where surface transport could get affected and there is also a threat of avalanche during the next 24 hours,” he said.
He said the weather will again turn dry on Thursday. But, he said another fresh WD is expected to hit the region on Friday, which would result in more snow. “The second WD, which will hit the region on Friday, is stronger than the one which is currently active in the state,” he added.
He said there is possibility of a spell of moderate rain or snow at widespread places of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh regions with possibility of heavy snowfall in isolated placed with maximum intensity and spread on Friday and Saturday and gradual decrease thereafter.
He said snowfall during ‘Chillai Kalan’, which commenced on December 21, 2018, helps in restoring the depleting snow reserves in the mountains. “As the temperature during this 40-day period goes down several degrees below freezing point, the snowfall which occurs during this time remains there throughout the summers,” he added.
Gulmarg, where the ski slopes are under 2 to 3 feet of snow, received fresh snowfall since early Wednesday morning, much to the delight of skiers and tourists.
“About 6 inches of fresh snow has been accumulated on the ski slopes. Khilanmarg and Apharwat, the highest point of the cable car project in Gulmarg, also received fresh moderate to heavy snowfall since this morning. But the dip in the day temperature, didn’t deter the tourists who were enjoying the snowfall,” a hotelier said.
Meanwhile, sophisticated machines were pressed into service and about 4 inches of snow accumulated on the Tangmarg-Gumarg road was cleared to make the ski resort, about 55 km from here in north Kashmir, accessible to tourists.
Gulmarg was the only place in the valley were the mercury dipped about a degree from Tuesday and settled at minus 5 degree, which is still about a degree above normal.
World famous health resort of Pahalgam also received fresh snowfall since early this morning, resulting in dip in the maximum temperature though the mercury during the night improved due to overcast conditions. Against minus 4.9 degree recorded on Tuesday, the night temperature in Pahalgam was minus 0.5 degree, which is about 5 degree above normal.
The upper reaches in Pahalgam, including Chandanwari, the last motorable halting station for Amarnath cave shrine on traditional yatra route, received fresh light to moderate snowfall. Amarnath cave shine and its periphery besides Sheshnag, Mahagung, Pisso top and Panjterni also received fresh snowfall.
After witnessing an improvement of about 4 degree, people woke up to a chilly Wednesday morning in the summer capital, Srinagar. As the day progressed, light sleet was received in the afternoon in Srinagar, followed by overcast conditions. Against minus 4.2 degree recorded on Tuesday, the night temperature in Srinagar was zero degree, which is about 2 degree above normal.
Another health resort of Sonmarg on Srinagar-Leh national highway also received fresh snowfall since early this morning, resulting in chilly weather conditions. Baltal, base camp of Amarnath yatra from the shortest yatra route, also received fresh snowfall. Fresh snowfall was also received at Zojila, Zero-point, Meenmarg and other places on Srinagar-Leh national highway, which connects Ladakh region with Kashmir valley. The highway remained closed due to accumulation of several feet of snow at various places from over a month.
People continued to shiver in Ladakh region, where all the water bodies, including ponds and khuls, remained frozen, affecting normal life. The border town of Kargil was the coldest place in the region at minus 17 degree, followed by neighbouring Leh town, where the mercury improved about 2 degree from Tuesday and settled at minus 12.4 degree.
Meanwhile, dozens of far-flung and remote villages near the Line of Control (LoC) — including border towns of Keran, Tangdhar, Karnah and Gurez — were on Wednesday cut off from their respective district headquarters due to fresh snowfall and slippery road conditions in north Kashmir.
The mercury at Qazigund, gateway to the valley, Kupwara in north Kashmir, and tourist resort of Kokernag improved and settled at minus 0.3 degree, 0.2 degree, and minus 1.4 degree, respectively.