Weather to clear by afternoon today, but no traffic on highway; respite from cold expected soon
Srinagar: Kashmir valley received light to moderate snowfall on Saturday which disrupted both air and surface traffic. The disruption is not likely to be prolonged as the weather office has predicted the weather to clear by Sunday afternoon and stay that way till the end of this month.
According to weather officials, the famous ski-resort Gulmarg received snowfall of 22 inches amounting to nearly two feet till Saturday evening.
Srinagar city recorded about 4.6 inches of snow while Qazigund in south Kashmir received about 4.5 inches of snowfall till Saturday evening, officials said.
Pahalgam recorded about 7.7 inches of snowfall till the evening while Kokernag received about 6 inches of snow. Kupwara in north Kashmir received about 5.2 inches of snowfall till the evening.
The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was closed for traffic at about 11 AM Saturday due to snowfall on both sides of the Jawahar Tunnel, leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded on the highway.
“The traffic was plying on the highway till 11AM. After that, the snowfall disrupted the traffic and continued till late evening, leaving no possibility for the plying of vehicles. The BRO team is on the job and snow clearance is going on. Till the time the highway was through, more than two-hundred vehicles had passed over to Kashmir valley”, Manzoor Ahmad Mir, SP Traffic, Rural Kashmir, told Kashmir Reader.
He added that fresh traffic movement on the highway will remain suspended on Sunday. “If snowfall stops by late night, we’ll try to resume traffic for stranded vehicles by tomorrow evening,” he added.
The traffic department said in a statement that “No vehicular movement shall be allowed on Jammu-Srinagar NHW from either side in view of shooting stones/mudslides at several places on NHW, snow accumulation around the Jawahar Tunnel and inclement weather prediction issued by MeT department.”
A BRO official told Kashmir Reader that the Jawahar Tunnel range received about one foot of snowfall till the evening, and that continuous snowfall was hampering clearance efforts, which have been going on since morning.
“Snowfall started here at around 4 AM in the night and continued throughout the day. Our men and machinery have been on the job since morning but the continuous snowfall leaves the road non-motorable again. Once the snow stops, the clearance will begin in full swing to make the road feasible for vehicles,” the BRO official said.
Flight operations also remained disrupted at Srinagar Airport on Saturday, leaving hundreds of travellers disappointed upon reaching the airport. During the day travellers were seen in large crowds waiting outside the airport, only to see their flights cancelled.
Airport officials said that no flight could take off or land on Saturday due to the continuous snowfall.
“No flight could operate at Srinagar Airport on Saturday due to the snowfall, which was going on continuously. The runway was occupied by snow since morning and despite men and machinery on the job, the snowfall covered the runway again and again,” Santosh Dhoke, Director of Srinagar International Airport, told Kashmir Reader.
For Sunday, he said that flight operations will remain subject to the weather conditions and visibility. “If everything is feasible, flights will resume at the airport tomorrow,” he said.
The Disaster Management Authority of J&K issued an avalanche warning for upper reaches of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh on Saturday. “Medium Danger (Yellow Alert) avalanche warning has been issued for upper reaches of Poonch, Rajouri, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Anantnag, Kulgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal and Kargil Districts,” the department said.
Saturday’s snowfall led to huge traffic jams in Srinagar city with a huge number of vehicles seen struggling with the snow on roads.
Weather officials said on Saturday that the department was expecting the wet spell to end by Sunday afternoon, and the weather will start improving slightly during the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday and eventually lead to significant improvement by the afternoon.
“There will be significant change in weather resulting in the end of wet spell by tomorrow afternoon,” Dr Mukhtar Ahmad, Deputy Director of Meteorological Department, J&K, told Kashmir Reader.
He added that the weather will remain mainly dry up to the end of this month, and there will be some respite from the freezing temperatures over the next two days. “The temperatures will also rise over the next two days. Days will be warmer while the nights will be cold but not that much,” he said.
Due to the fresh spell of snowfall, night temperatures across Kashmir valley increased significantly on Saturday, though they remained below zero. Srinagar city recorded a low of minus 2.0 degree Celsius, up from minus 6.1 degree Celsius on the previous night, while Qazigund recorded a minimum of 4.0 degree Celsius, up from minus 6.2 degree Celsius on the earlier night.
The mercury in Gulmarg settled at a low of minus 4.8 degree Celsius, up from minus 6 degrees Celsius on the previous night, and in Kupwara at minus 0.4 degrees Celsius, up from minus 4.8 degree Celsius the night before.
Pahalgam recorded a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius, showing a rise of nearly six notches from the previous night’s minus 7.0 degree Celsius. Kokernag recorded minus 4.5 degree Celsius, as against minus 6.5 degree Celsius on the earlier night.