Plains in the Kashmir Valley have experienced the season’s first snowfall on Thursday night, even as the accumulation has been modest in high altitude areas leading to closure of the 300-km Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
Spokesman at Kashmir Divisional Commissioner’s office, Aamir Ali Mir, who also looks after the Disaster Management Cell, told The Hindu that an average of one to four inches of snow had been recorded in the Valley plains. He said that authorities, who were already prepared for the eventuality in the wake of weather forecasts, established a control room and started snow clearance operations in the wee hours of Friday.
Mr. Mir said that Srinagar-Jammu highway had been closed for traffic due to modest snowfall from Qazigund to Banihall, on either side of the Jawahar Tunnel. He said that the number of vehicles stranded on the highway was being ascertained, though there were immediately no disturbing reports from Ramban-Qazigund area. He said that Project Beacon authorities of the Border Roads Organisation, that maintains the highway, had already started efforts to clear the highway for traffic.
In Srinagar , people woke up to find a thin carpet snow on roads, public parks and rooftops. However, all services, including traffic and electricity, were functional. The snowfall had stopped but temperature was static at 1°C.
Gulmarg, Afarwath, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Zabarvan hill range near Srinagar, besides Pin Panjal mountain range have also experienced snowfall since the beginning of November. However, residents in the plains were thrilled to see the winter’s first snowfall on Friday.
Chief Engineer, Mechanical Engineering Department Kashmir started snow clearance operations in many areas of the Valley where the accumulation was four inches and above. Sources said the snow clearance operations were in progress on Gulmarg-Tangmarg Road, Verinag, Pahalgam, Kulgam, Shopian-Aharbal, Ganderbal-Kangan and Kupwara. Gulmarg-Tangmarg road has been re-opened for vehicular traffic, but only vehicles with 4x4 or anti-skid chains fitted on tyres were being allowed on the 13 km zigzag.
At 6.30 a.m. on Friday, snow accumulation was recorded as 10 inch at Jawahar Tunnel. According to officials, it was 5 inch at Verinag, 3” to 5” at Kokernag, 5” at Pahalgam, ½” to 1” at Anantnag, 3” at Kulgam, 10” to 12” at Damhal Hanjipora, 12” at Shopian 12”, 12” to 18” at Aharbal, 18” at Gulmarg, 5” to 6” at Tangmarg, 3” at Kupwara, 4” to 5” at Lolab, 6” at Gund, 7” at Sonamarg, 2” at Baramulla, 5” at Rafiabad,2” in Bandipora and Handwara and 3” in Pulwama 3”.