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Snowfall in Kashmir throws life out of gear

Normal life was on Friday thrown out of gear in Kashmir as snowfall continued intermittently for the fourth consecutive day, virtually cutting of the Valley from rest of the country due to closure of Srinagar-Jammu national highway and suspension of air traffic.

The MET Office has forecast widespread snowfall or rains over the next two days also.

Srinagar-Jammu national highway has been closed for traffic due to bad weather, an official of the traffic department said. He said traffic on the highway, the only all-weather road link connecting Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country, was stopped due to snowfall and rain at few places along the nearly 294-km route.

While the traffic from Srinagar was stopped at Awantipora, Anantnag and Qazigund, the traffic from Jammu towards Srinagar was stopped at Nagrota, the official said. He said snowfall was hampering efforts to re-open the highway for traffic.

Operations at Srinagar International Airport were also suspended and all flights for the day cancelled due to snowfall, an official of the Airport Authority of India said.

In Srinagar city and other towns of the Valley, heavy snowfall began on Friday morning, affecting movement of traffic and leading to traffic jams at many places as the roads were rendered slippery. This is the heaviest snowfall experienced in the summer capital this season.

The higher reaches in the Valley like Keran, Machil, Karnah, Gurez, Shopian, Sonamarg and Amarnath cave along with surrounding areas experienced continuous moderate to heavy snowfall for the fourth consecutive day, an official said.

The administration has not yet activated snow clearance apparatus, which has resulted in many areas getting cut off.

The cloudy weather led to increase in night temperatures across the Valley except Gulmarg.

The city here registered the minimum temperature of 0.1 degree Celsius slightly up from minus 0.3 degree Celsius on Thursday, the official said.

He said the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir registered a low of minus 6.2 degrees Celsius, a degree down from the previous night’s minus 5.2 degrees Celsius. He said the resort was the coldest places in the Valley.

During the last 24 hours, there has been heavy snowfall in Gulmarg, the star attraction for tourists visiting the Valley during winter, and peripheral areas including Khilanmarg, Kongdoori and Afferwath. Pahalgam in south Kashmir, which serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath Yatra, received five cm of snow and rainfall during the last 24 hours, the official said, adding the resort recorded a low of minus 1.4 degrees Celsius.

He said the twin tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam were the only two recorded places in Kashmir Valley where the night temperatures settled below the freezing point. Kupwara, in north Kashmir, recorded four cm snow, while the night temperature there settled at a low of 0.3 degree Celsius.

Kokernag town in south Kashmir registered a minimum of 0.3 degree Celsius and recorded rains and snow equivalent to 1.3 mm, the official said. He said Qazigund, the gateway town to Kashmir Valley, recorded 4.2 mm of rainfall and snow and the night temperature there settled at a low of 0. 6 degree Celsius.

Leh in the frontier region of Ladakh was the coldest recorded place in the state with a low of minus 9.5 degrees Celsius, while the nearby Kargil town registered the minimum temperature of minus 9.0 degrees Celsius.

The MET Office has forecast widespread snowfall or rains over two days from today and fairly isolated to widespread rains or snowfall for two days after that.