Shimla, Vaishnodevi witness first snowfall

The snowfall disrupted normal life in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, affecting vehicular traffic and power supply. The snowfall in the Himachal capital brought cheers to local people and thousands of tourists, who have reached there to ring in the New Year. It is nearly after two decades that Shimla received snowfall around New Year.

The ‘Queen of Hills’ received about 15-20 cm of snow on Thursday night, while intermittent snowfall continued during the day. Adjoining resorts of Kufri, Narkanda and Kharapatthar recorded 80-100 cm of snow overnight. The Hindustan-Tibet National Highway was closed beyond Chharabra due to heavy snow, and vehicular traffic to Rampur and Jeory was being routed via Basantpur and Kingal.

Manali, Solang Nallah, and Palchang have been witnessing intermittent snowfall since Thursday and about 50-75 cm of snow was recorded. 

Mid and lower areas in the hill state were lashed by intermittent rains accompanied by strong icy winds. Dharampur in Mandi district was the wettest in the region with 120 mm of rains followed by Palampur (99 mm) and Kandaghat (90 mm).

The cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi in Trikuta hills in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir received season’s first snowfall as pilgrims were making a beeline at the shrine for darshan on the New Year day.

Jammu-Srinagar National highway, the only road link between Kashmir valley and rest of the country, remained closed for second day even as the minimum temperature in Srinagar city stayed around freezing point following Thursday’s snowfall. Snow clearance operations were in progress, an official said.

Over 400 people stranded inside the Jawahar Tunnel near Qazigund, the gateway town to the Valley, were evacuated by the civil administration with the assistance of the Army.
The air link to the Valley was restored and all flights operated as per routine. The flights to and from Srinagar airport were cancelled yesterday due to snowfall.

Srinagar recorded a minimum of minus 0.2 deg C, while Qazigund settled at a low of minus 0.6 deg C. Leh and Kargil in the Ladakh region recorded a minimum temperature of minus 7 and minus 6.2 deg C respectively. 

Cold conditions relented in several parts of Punjab and Haryana with minimum temperature rising by up to 5 degrees, even as rains lashed the region.

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