Indian-administered Kashmir was on Monday cut off from rest of the world as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar highway and Mughal road were closed due to snowfall across the disputed region.
An official of the traffic control department in summer capital Srinagar said: “The Jammu-Srinagar highway is closed due to accumulation of snow at many places, especially around Jawahar Tunnel.”
Around 3-feet snow had accumulated at the vital tunnel late on Sunday night.
The official said snow clearance operations were in full swing and efforts were on to restore movement of stranded vehicles along the 260 kilometre road. Nearly 4500 vehicles, mostly trucks carrying essentials to the valley, are stranded along the highway at various places.
Mughal Road, which connects the valley to Jammu division through Shopian-Rajouri axis, has been closed for several days due to heavy snowfall in the region.
The officials said south Kashmir’s Kulgam district received highest snowfall with two to three feet of snow accumulated at some places. Anantnag district has also received heavy snowfall between one foot and two feet.
The flight operations to and from Srinagar remained suspended for second consecutive day due to poor visibility.
The minimum temperature improved in most places in the valley due to the snowfall but still stayed below the freezing point.
Srinagar city — the summer capital of Kashmir — recorded a low of minus 0.9 degrees Celsius — up from the previous night’s minus 1.5 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort remained unchanged at minus 5 degrees Celsius on Sunday night compared to a night earlier.
Pahalgam tourist resort recorded a low of minus 6.7 degrees Celsius – plunging from minus 1.45 degrees Celsius on the previous night, the officials said.
Qazigund recorded a minimum of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 0.3 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, minus 1.4 degrees Celsius.
The MET Office said moderate to heavy snowfall, with isolated very heavy snowfall, was most likely to take place, especially in south Kashmir, Gulmarg, Banihal-Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri, Kishtawar and Zanskar, Drass as well as on the higher reaches of Ladakh UT, over two days from Monday. “Overall, the snowfall will continue from Sunday to Tuesday forenoon with the occasional break. This may lead to the disruption of surface and air transportation, water-logging in plains of Jammu and Srinagar cities,” the MET Office said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillay-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.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.
While ‘Chillay-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).