Home Cities & Towns Jammu-Srinagar NH closed; helicopter service to Vaishno Devi suspended

Jammu-Srinagar NH closed; helicopter service to Vaishno Devi suspended

Fresh snowfall in Kashmir


JAMMU/SRINAGAR: Traffic on the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was suspended on Sunday following landslides triggered by heavy rains and snowfall, officials said.
Over 100 trucks are stranded between Chanderkote and Ramsu and efforts by the road clearance agencies are on to make the road trafficable.
Officials said the helicopter service to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine atop Trikuta hills in Reasi district also remained suspended due to inclement weather but the yatra continued despite a landslide on the new track and fresh snowfall at the bhawan.
Senior Superintendent of Police, traffic, Shabir Ahmad Malik said the Jammu-Srinagar national highway was closed after overnight rains triggered landslides and shooting of stones from the hillocks at various places including Cafeteria Morh, Duggi Pulli (Chanderkote) and Panthiyal in Ramban district.
No fresh traffic, which was scheduled to ply from Jammu towards Srinagar, was allowed this morning, he said.
The officer said Banihal sector also received heavy snowfall, rendering the arterial road slippery.
Officials said a landslide occurred on the new track leading to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine around 5 am on Sunday.
The landslide was cleared and the route is now open for the pilgrims, the officials said, adding the helicopter service, however, remained suspended for the second day on Sunday due to inclement weather.
Vaishno Devi shrine experienced over six inches of snow, while the depth of snow in its peripheral areas including Bhairon Ghati was over one feet, the officials said.
The weather office has predicted moderate rain or snow in both divisions of Jammu and Kashmir till Sunday evening followed by significant improvement in weather from January 24 to January 28.
Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine, recorded the highest 50.6 mm of rainfall during the past 24 hours till 8.30 am Sunday, while Jammu city recorded 13.7 mm of rainfall during the same period.
Banihal town in Ramban district was the coldest recorded place in Jammu region with a low of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius followed by Bhaderwah (0.6 deg C), a spokesperson of the meteorological department said.
He said Katra recorded near normal minimum temperature of 6.2 degrees Celsius, while Jammu city recorded 8.7 degrees Celsius, 1.7 notches above normal during this part of the season.
Many areas in Kashmir received fresh snowfall, while others were lashed by rains, even as the minimum temperature in most parts of the valley dropped, officials said.
Several areas in the valley, especially in the south, received fresh snowfall during the night, the officials said.
Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley in south Kashmir, and the nearby Kokernag town, recorded about six inches of snowfall.
Anantnag town, also in south, recorded three inches of snowfall, the officials said.
The other south Kashmir districts of Shopian, Pulwama and Kulgam also received snowfall ranging from two to seven inches, they said.
The famous resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam received around two inches.
There are reports of snowfall in other areas in the upper reaches of the valley as well, they said. The officials said the administration has pressed men and machinery into the job to clear the snow.
Other parts of the valley, including Srinagar, were lashed by rains which were going on when the last reports came in, the officials said.
However, the flight operations at the Srinagar airport here were going on normally as the visibility was around 1000 metres, the officials said.
The minimum temperature at most places in the valley on Saturday night went down slightly. Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a low of 0.4 degrees Celsius down from 2.3 degrees Celsius the previous night, they said.
Gulmarg recorded a low of minus 6.0 degrees Celsius half-a-degree up from the previous night.
Pahalgam, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 1.2 degrees Celsius up from the previous night’s minus 2.4 degrees Celsius, they said.
The officials said Qazigund recorded a minimum of zero degree Celsius, while the nearby south Kashmir town of Kokernag recorded a low of minus 0.7 degrees Celsius. The minimum in Kupwara in north Kashmir settled at a low of 1.2 degrees Celsius. The MET Office has forecast widespread light to moderate rain/snow in J-K till Sunday evening.
Thereafter, there are chances of rain or snow at isolated places over two days, it said. Afterwards, the weather is likely to stay mainly dry till the end of the month and there is no forecast of any major rain/snow till the end of January, it said.
Kashmir valley is currently under the grip of the 40-day harshest winter period known as ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ which began on December 21 last year.
‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ is a 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 the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy to very heavy snowfall. The ‘Chilla-i-Kalan’ will end on January 31, but 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).

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