Fresh snowfall in Valley; Leh coldest at minus 13.7 degrees C

Fresh snowfall in Valley; Leh coldest at minus 13.7 degrees C
Many areas in the higher reaches of Kashmir experienced fresh snowfall today even as an overcast sky led to relief from intense cold conditions as the mercury increased across the Valley and Ladakh region. Meteorological (MeT) department has predicted widespread rains or snow over three days.

Fresh snowfall was recorded in Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Kupwara areas of Kashmir this morning, a MeT official here said. He said while one centimetre of snow was recorded in Kupwara where it started to snow during the night, the twin tourist resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam received snowfall this morning. There were reports of snowfall in many other areas in the higher reaches of the Valley.

The MeT Office has forecast fairly wide spread to wide spread rains or snow with heavy falls at isolated places over three days from today. The weather forecast has prompted authorities to put in place a mechanism to respond quickly to any exigency arising out of snowfall, with the government warning its officials that any lapse in the snow clearance would not be tolerated and responsibility would be fixed in case of any complaints.

The warning comes in view of the severe criticism which the government faced after the authorities failed to clear most of the roads in the wake of heavy snowfall on January 6. Owing to overcast sky, the night temperature across the Valley and Ladakh region improved by several degrees, providing relief to the residents from the intense cold conditions.

Srinagar, which had experienced the coldest night of the season yesterday as the mercury settled at a low of minus 6.8 degrees, recorded a low of minus 2.3 degrees Celsius last night which is an increase of over four degrees, the MeT official said. Leh town, in Ladakh region, was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir as the mercury there settled at a low of minus 13.7 degrees Celsius, which is over three degrees up from yesterday's minus 17.0 degrees Celsius.

The nearby Kargil town registered a low of minus 10 degrees Celsius, an increase of over five degrees from minus 15.6 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said. Gulmarg, the famous ski-resort in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 10.5 degrees Celsius, up nearly four degrees from minus 14.4 degrees Celsius the previous night.

The mercury in Pahalgam hill resort, in south Kashmir, went up nearly eight degrees from the previous night's minus 12.0 degrees Celsius to settle at the low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius. Kokernag, in south Kashmir, registered a low of minus 4.7 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara town in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius, the official said.

He said the mercury in Qazigund town in south Kashmir settled at a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, Minister for Roads and Buildings, A R Veeri, yesterday convened a meeting to review the snow clearance and dewatering arrangements in view of snowfall and rain predictions in the State.

The Minister Veeri directed the officers to keep their men and machinery ready and clear all roads and by-lanes within the shortest possible time so that people do not face any difficulty, an official spokesman said here. He said the meeting was informed that all the concerned Departments were ready to meet any eventuality and adequate men and machinery have been kept on standby mode for snow clearance measures.

It was said that besides three main control rooms, all sub-control rooms in the Valley were working 24X7 for the convenience of the general public. Veeri directed the officers to ensure timely clearance of snow from main roads, lanes and by lanes in the district, especially on roads leading to important installations, the spokesman said.

The Minister was informed that every snow clearing machine has been allotted a route map and the machines will swung into action as soon as snow starts accumulating. "Any lapse in the snow clearance would not be tolerated and responsibility will be fixed in case of any complaints," he warned. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, also conveyed a meeting yesterday to review the arrangements put in place regarding snow clearance, the spokesman said.

He said the divisional commissioner was briefed that 310 snow cutter machines have been kept ready for the purpose, besides several machines have been dispatched to far flung areas of the Valley for augmenting snow clearance operations. Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai-Kalan' considered the harshest period of winter, when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.

'Chillai-Kalan', which, began on December 21 last year, ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long 'Chillai-Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day long 'Chillai-Bachha' (baby cold).
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