Kashmir is in a deep freeze as the 40-day harshest spell of winter, locally called ‘chillai kalan’, started on Tuesday, with the minimum temperature already sub-zero in the entire Valley.
“The 40-day has started in Kashmir. The minimum temperature, between minus three to minus four degree Celsius in Srinagar, is likely to improve in the coming days with cloud cover taking over from December 23 till December 26-27,” Sonam Lotus, J&K meteorological department director, said.
The cold wave triggered by the sub-zero temperature has slowed down the pace of life in the Valley. People leave homes very late in the morning and return early in the evening.
Dr. Nisar Ul Hassan, president of the Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK), has warned of increase in cases of heart attack or stroke due to the chilly weather. “The number of heart attack and stroke patients at Kashmir hospitals doubles in winter. Not only the elderly, but young and healthy people come to hospitals with heart problems, and some of them are even brought dead,” he said.
Mr. Lotus said Kashmir may not be able to see a ‘white Christmas’, as fresh snowfall was unlikely around December 24. “There is likely a spell of snowfall from December 26 onwards in both the upper reaches and plains of the Valley,” he observed.
J&K and Ladakh have witnessed a snow shortfall of 60 to 70 % in December. “December has seen very low snowfall in J&K and Ladakh,” he added.