Highway shuts again as snow, rain return to Kashmir valley

Highway shuts again as snow, rain return to Kashmir valley
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Srinagar: Traffic on the strategic Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was suspended once again on Wednesday as high-altitude areas in Jammu and Kashmir experienced fresh snowfall, while the plains were lashed by incessant rains, officials said.
All traffic which was allowed from Jammu to Srinagar Wednesday morning was stopped at Udhampur due to threat of landslides, especially in the problematic zone of Panthiyal and Ramsu in Ramban district, a Traffic Department official said.
He said light snowfall was going on at Jawahar Tunnel – the gateway to Kashmir Valley – while the rest of the highway was hit by incessant rains since Tuesday night.
“Intermittent shooting of stones from the hillock overlooking the highway was also reported near Panthiyal since morning, rendering the road unsafe,” the official said.
He said authorities are monitoring the situation and a decision to allow the traffic would be taken once the weather improves and the road is cleared of the debris.
Traffic on the 270-km highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, plies alternatively from the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar in view of the ongoing work on the four-laning project.
Officials said that about four inches of snow had accumulated on the ground at Jawahar Tunnel and its peripheral areas, which along with other high-altitude areas witnessed fresh snowfall since Tuesday night.
The snowfall was reported from almost all high altitude areas while the plains, including Jammu, were lashed by rains, resulting in considerable drop in the mercury, they said.
Kashmir valley, including Srinagar city, on Wednesday received a fresh spell of snowfall – a rare occurrence in the month of March in recent years – while overnight rainfall caused water logging in many parts of the capital.
Heavy rainfall in plains and snowfall in higher reaches began during the night and continued till around noon Wednesday, a MeT department official said.
He said Srinagar received moderate snowfall for nearly two hours.
The rains and snowfall led to accumulation of water on many roads while low lying areas in the city were inundated.
The administration used mobile pumps to drain the excess water accumulated on the city roads especially in the commercial hub of Lal Chowk and surrounding areas.
The downpour also caused the mercury to fall, leading to winter-like chill in the Valley.
Light to moderate rainfall has been forecast in the valley over the next six days.
Banihal town along the highway received the highest amount of rainfall at 17.7mm during the past 24 hours ending 0830 hours Wednesday, while Jammu received rainfall of 12.8mm during the same period, a spokesman at the weather office said.