Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fresh snowfall in Valley-Highway Closed, Cold Wave Back by UMER MAQBOOL DAR

Fresh snowfall in Valley-Highway Closed, Cold Wave Back by UMER MAQBOOL DAR

Srinagar, Feb 25: 

Kashmir valley, including Srinagar, experienced a fresh spell of snowfall this evening as the cold wave tightened its grip over the region. Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only road link to the Kashmir valley, was closed this evening following heavy snowfall in Jawahar tunnel area. 

The snowfall in Srinagar and other areas of the Valley followed light drizzle late afternoon, plummeting the day temperature to two degrees below normal.

Intermittent snowfall continued in the high altitude areas for the third day, resulting in a fall in night temperature which settled below freezing point in most parts of the Valley, excluding Srinagar, officials said. 

Jawahar Tunnel, gateway to Kashmir, in Pir Panjal mountain range, received another bout of heavy snowfall this evening resulting in the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway. 

“The traffic on the highway was stopped this evening following heavy snowfall in Jawahar Tunnel area,” SSP Traffic (Rural) G M Wadoo told Greater Kashmir. He said the road would remain closed tomorrow for vehicular movement.

The snow and rains resulted in cold wave conditions in the Valley as the maximum temperature in Srinagar was recorded at 7.4 degrees Celsius – two degrees below normal during this part of the season.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, director metrology Sonam Lotus said that light to moderate rainfall was recorded in plains and snow in high altitude areas of Kashmir division.

“There would be moderate to heavy snowfall at Lower Munda, Jawahar Tunnel, Patnitop areas on highway in the next 24 hours. There would be no respite as inclement weather would continue till March 2,” he said.

Meanwhile, Srinagar received 3 mm, Qazigund 9mm, Pahalgam 9 mm and Kupwara 17 mm of the rainfall in the past 24 hours. The tourist resort of Gulmarg received one feet of snow.

The minimum temperature recorded in Srinagar was 0.3 degrees Celsius, a dip of two degrees compared to the previous night, a MET office spokesman said.

However, he said Kargil in the frontier region of Ladakh was the coldest place in the state with a maximum of minus 2.0 and a minimum of minus 15.0 degrees Celsius.

Leh, also in the cold desert of Ladakh, recorded a high of 4.2 degrees Celsius and a low of minus 6.0 degrees Celsius, the spokesman said.

He said the famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir was the coldest place in the Valley as the night temperature slipped to minus 9.5 degrees Celsius.

SHAHID RAFIQ ADDS FROM KUPWARA: Fresh snow avalanches coupled with heavy snowfall hampered the opening of arterial Chowkibal-Karnah road which remained closed for 20th consecutive day today.
The border tehsil of Karnah, with a population of nearly 80,000 souls is cut off from rest of the valley due to blockade near Sadhana Pass, where around 10 to 12 feet of snow has accumulated.

Hundreds of Karnah-bound passengers stranded at Chowkibal, Panzgam and Kupwara have demanded that alternative arrangement should be made to carry them to Tangdhar. 

“We have already airlifted around 50 stranded passengers from Kupwara to Karnah and vice versa. Those included some patients and officials,” said DDC Kupwara, Muhammad

Shafi Rather. He said that the matter regarding arranging more sorties to airlift the stranded passengers has been taken up with the government.

Official sources said landslides and snow avalanches triggered by fresh snowfall around Sadhana Pass, and adjoining areas, are hindering the opening of 100- KM road, the only link connecting Karnah with rest of the Valley.

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