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Fresh snowfall lashes higher reaches of Kashmir

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Rains lashed plains while higher reaches received fresh snowfall in Kashmir for the second day on Tuesday.

The minimum temperature in Srinagar last night settled at minus 0.2 degrees Celsius – almost same as the previous night, the MET official said.

He said the western disturbance active over Jammu and Kashmir has resulted in rains in the Jammu division and the snowfall in the Valley over the past 24 hours, since Monday.

"The system is likely to weaken from Tuesday evening and we are expecting gradual improvement from tomorrow onwards," the official said.

He said Qazigund – the gateway town to the Valley – in south Kashmir recorded a low of 0.8 degree Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius last night.

The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at a low of minus 0.4 degree Celsius.

Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius last night, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, the official said.

The downpour has forced closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway following a snow-avalanche near Jawahar Tunnel in Qazigund area in the early hours of Tuesday.

He said Leh, in the frontier Ladakh region, recorded a low of 2.8 degrees Celsius -- a big surprise for this time of the year when the normal minimum temperature is six to seven degrees below the freezing point.

The mercury in nearby Kargil settled at a low of minus 12.2 degrees Celsius.

Kargil was the coldest recorded place in Jammu and Kashmir, colder than even Drass town which recorded a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.

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.

'Chillai-Kalan' ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long 'Chillai-Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day long 'Chilla-Bachha' (baby cold).

Meanwhile, intense cold conditions prevailed across Jammu region as snowfall continued in higher reaches while heavy rains lashed plains on Tuesday, forcing closure of many roads including the Jammu-Kishtwar highway and Doda-Assar road, officials said.

Snow accumulation of one to five feet was reported from higher reaches but there was no report of any damage, the officials said, adding district authorities have advised people to avoid slopes due to threat of avalanches and also clear accumulated snow from rooftops regularly.

They said the authorities also announced closure of schools for the day in Kathua and Udhampur districts as a precautionary measure.

They said the Jammu-Kishtwar highway and Doda-Assar road were closed, while dozens of other roads linking far flung areas in Reasi, Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts were closed following the heavy snowfall.

In Reasi district, a police official said five feet of snow had accumulated in Gulabgarh and adjoining areas, while it was two feet in Tuliwan, Balankote and Chasana.

There was two inches of snowfall at the cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Trikota hills.

Four feet of snow had accumulated at Goo, three feet at famous hill resort of Patnitop, two feet in Banihal, one feet in Bhaderwah, seven inches in Gandoh and one-and-a-half feet in Kud, the official said.

A spokesman of the MET department predicted significant improvement in the weather from tomorrow.

Heavy rains lashed Jammu and other plains for the third day Tuesday, resulting in considerable drop in the mercury especially in the day temperature which slipped several degrees below normal during this part of the season.

The minimum temperature in Jammu fell by 3.2 degrees to settle at 8.7 degrees Celsius compared to the previous night's 11.9 degrees Celsius, the MET spokesman said, adding the City of Temples recorded 43.7 mm of rains during the past 24 hours till 0830 hours this morning.

The day temperature in the city dropped to 13.2 degrees Celsius – 5.6 degrees below normal during this part of the season – on Monday owing to incessant rains, he said.

The spokesman said the highway townships of Banihal and Batote witnessed sub-zero night temperature at minus 0.1 and minus 2.1 degrees Celsius, respectively, while the snow-bound Bhaderwah town in Doda district recorded a low of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius.

Snow avalanche blocks Jawahar tunnel, Sgr-Jmu NH closed

Srinagar, Jan 22: The Srinagar-Jammu national highway was closed on Tuesday after a snow avalanche blocked both tubes of the Jawahar tunnel on Qazigund side, police said.

Rescue operations have been launched to evacuate people stranded in the tunnel but there is no report of any casualty so far.

"A snow avalanche hit Jawahar tunnel and has blocked both tubes of the tunnel from Qazigund side," a police official said.

He said the avalanche forced suspension of traffic movement on the arterial Srinagar-Jammu national highway.

"Rescue operation has been launched to evacuate people stranded in the tunnel. Men and machinery are on job to clear the debris," the official said.

Further details are awaited.

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