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First snowfall of 2019 closes vital road links in J&K

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A pedestrian walks on snow covered Ferozpora link road near Tangmarg as first snowfall of 2019 lashed parts of Kashmir on Wednesday. Photo/Javed Khan

Srinagar/Jammu, Jan 02: Kashmir received first snowfall of the New Year on Wednesday, breaking a month-long dry spell in the Valley which resulting in closure of some important highways including the road link between Srinagar and Jammu cities.

The 300-kilometre-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway and the Mughal Road, which connects Jammu's Poonch and Rajouri districts with south Kashmir's Shopian, have been closed for vehicular traffic after the fresh snowfall, officials said.

"There was snowfall at most places in Kashmir, particularly in Gulmarg and Pahalgam tourist resorts, traces of snowfall was also witnessed in Srinagar early in the morning" an official said.

Jawahar tunnel and other areas are still having snowfall. As a precautionary measure all Kashmir-bound vehicles have been stopped at Nagrota and Udhampur, the officials said.

Over 300 vehicles are stranded at various places and agencies have been deployed to clear the snow, the officials added.

Vehicular movement was suspended on roads connecting border areas with the main town in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district following fresh snowfall.

Reports said that the vehicular movement was suspended as a precautionary measure as roads have become slippery due to snowfall.

The area also become prone to landslides and avalanches after snowfall, officials said.

The plain areas of the district have received around four inches of snowfall since early morning.

The Kupwara-Tangdhar road has been closed as around one feet snow has accumulated at Sadhna Top.

“To avoid any kind of accident the roads have been closed for vehicular movement and the clearance will be started once the weather improves,” said an official.

Last year, the roads were closed for three days following snowfall in the district. On 17 November last year, a police officer was killed and six others injured after their vehicle turned turtle in Keran area of Kupwara.

Bandipora-Gurez road was also closed for traffic after heavy snowfall in the area.

An official said the road was closed for all types of traffic after heavy snowfall in Gurez, Tragbal and Razdan Pass.

"Around 7 inches and 1 feet snow have accumulated in Gurez and Razdan pass respectively since late last night. The road has been closed as a precautionary measure," he said.

The district administration also decided to stop vehicular movement on Bandipora-Sumbal road for few hours due to snowfall in the area.

"In view of continuous snowfall and for safety of vehicles/passengers we will be closing Sumbal-Bandipora stretch of road for few hours. Pl plan your journey accordingly," DC Bandipora, Dr. Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said in a tweet during the day.

The snowfall has brought major respite to the residents of Kashmir as the minimum temperature rose by several degrees, except in Gulmarg.

Srinagar recorded a 0 degrees Celsius on Tuesday night -- an increase of over four degrees from minus 4.2 degrees Celsius on the previous night, the Met department said.

Gulmarg received snowfall equivalent to 8.8 mm of rains till 8.30 am, while Kupwara recorded 7.4 mm precipitation. The remaining weather stations recorded downpour between 1.5-2.5 mm during the corresponding period, the official said.

Kargil was the coldest place in Jammu and Kashmir at minus 17.0 degrees Celsius. The night temperature in Leh town in Ladakh region was minus 12.4 degrees Celsius.

On Tuesday night, Qazigund in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius, Kokernag town minus 1.4 degrees, Kupwara 0.2 degrees, Pahalgam minus 0.5 degrees and Gulmarg at minus 5.0 degrees Celsius, the official said.

Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai-Kalan', the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are believed to be most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably. The period ends on January 31,

The weather department has predicted more precipitation in Kashmir over the next three days.

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