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Fresh snowfall pushes up mercury in Kashmir

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Sgr-Jmu highway reopens for one-way traffic

Srinagar, Jan 30: The 40-day-long ‘ChillaiKalan’ got a relatively warmer farewell in Kashmir as fresh snowfall pushed up the minimum temperature across the Valley.

Moderate snowfall in plains and heavy precipitation in the higher reaches of the Valley has been going on since early hours, the MeT department said Wednesday.

The weatherman said the precipitation brought major respite to residents and the minimum temperature increased several degrees across all weather stations.

Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, saw the mercury rise by more than 12 degrees from minus 30.4 degrees Celsius to settle at minus 18.0 degrees Celsius.

In Leh district, the mercury settled at a low of minus 7.8 degrees Celsius compared to previous night’s minus 17.4 degrees Celsius, he said.

The minimum temperature in Srinagar Tuesday night settled at minus 0.3 degree Celsius –  four degrees up from the previous night, the official said.

The MeT said Qazigund – the gateway town to the Valley – in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 2 degrees Celsius, while nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 3.4 degrees Celsius Tuesday night.

The mercury in Kupwara town in north Kashmir settled at minus 2.2 degrees Celsius compared to Tuesday night’s low of minus 7.8 degrees Celsius.

Gulmarg ski-resort in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 7.5 degrees Celsius Tuesday night, rising significantly from the previous night’s minus 12.2 degrees Celsius, while Pahalgam tourist resort, in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 3.3 degrees Celsius — 10-degree rise over previous night,  the official said.

The MeT has forecast rain or snow at most places across the state over the next five days.

The 40-day-long ‘Chillai-Kalan’ – the harshest period of winter when chances of snowfall are believed to be most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably — ends Wednesday night, but the cold wave is expected to continue in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by 20-day long Chillai-Khurd (small cold) and 10-day long Chilla-Bachha (baby cold).

Meanwhile, the Srinagar-Jammu national highway was reopened for one-way traffic Wednesday after authorities cleared the landslide which had struck the highway in Ramban district, a Traffic department official said.

The landslide had blocked the 270-km highway at Anokhi fall around 1.30 am but after the road clearance operation was completed at 9.15 am, Jammu-bound vehicles were allowed to ply, the official said.

He said the traffic was going on smoothly when last reports came in although the weather remained cloudy.

Hundreds of Jammu-bound vehicles were left stranded on the highway on Tuesday due to shooting of stones from the hillock overlooking the highway at Panthiyal, also in Ramban district.

Accordingly, authorities decided to allow traffic from Srinagar to Jammu on Wednesday as well.

The traffic on the highway usually plies from the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu alternatively but heavy snowfall, multiple landslides and shooting of stones forced closure of the highway for six days from January 21.

A spokesman of the Meteorological department has forecast wet weather in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir during the next 48 hours and said it might also affect the highway especially Banihal-Ramban axis Wednesday night and Thursday.

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