Kashmir reels under intense cold wave
STATE TIMES NEWS
Jammu: The Jammu airport operated just five flights on Wednesday, while 14 others to and from it were cancelled, as a dense fog cover enveloped the region for a second consecutive day, officials said here.
Jammu Airport Director Pravat Ranjan Beuria said flight operations resumed around 3 pm after visibility improved, allowing five arrivals with 571 passengers and their departure with 525 passengers.
Rest of the 14 flights got cancelled due to the “poor visibility” caused by the foggy conditions, he said.
This was the second day that the flight operations at the Jammu airport have been hit by poor visibility. As many as 17 flights were cancelled Tuesday and just one could land.
Talking about the visibility on Wednesday, Beuria told PTI, “It was just 600 metres at 1 pm from zero in the morning, thus not allowing the start of flight operations.”
A dense fog returned to Jammu city amid a drop in the night temperature which settled at 2.9 degrees Celsius, 4.5 notches below normal during this part of the season. However, the sun came out around noon and provided some relief from the bone-chilling cold and improvement in the visibility in some areas.
Bhaderwah in Doda district, which experienced heavy snowfall last week, was the coldest recorded place in Jammu region with a low of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, a spokesman of the MET department said.
He said Batote in Ramban district along the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway also recorded subzero night temperature at minus 0.9 degrees Celsius, while Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district, was reeling under a minimum of 3.8 degrees Celsius.
The shrine atop Trikuta hills and adjoining areas also experienced the first snowfall of the season on the weekend.
The maximum temperature improved by two notches in Jammu to settle at 14.6 degrees Celsius, which is 4.4 degrees below normal during this part of the season, the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, intense cold wave conditions swept Kashmir as the mercury fell below the freezing point across the valley, officials said.
The cloud cover ahead of Tuesday’s snowfall had kept the night temperature around the freezing point for two consecutive nights in most parts of the valley but the respite ended as the mercury plunged to minus 11 degrees in Gulmarg in north Kashmir, the officials said.
They said Gulmarg tourist destination was the coldest recorded place in the valley.
Pahalgam, which serves as the base camp for annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 9 degrees Celsius — a drop of six notches in 24 hours.
The officials said the minimum temperature in Srinagar the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir was minus 2.2 degrees Celsius on Tuesday night.
Qazigund the gateway town to the valley recorded the minimum of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in the north, registered a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, in the south, minus 6.5 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall, the officials said.
While ‘Chillai-Kalan’ which began on December 21 — will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).