Unseasonal snowfall cuts off Kashmir valley, flights cancelled

The mercury in Srinagar plunged six degrees Celsius overnight to minus 0.6 degrees

Srinagar snowfall AFP Snowfall in Srinagar on November 7 | AFP

Heavy snowfall across Kashmir on Thursday cut off the valley from the rest of the country as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic while all flights to and from Srinagar airport were cancelled, officials said.

An official of the traffic department told PTI that roads that connect the summer capital with far-flung areas like Gurez, Macchil, Keran and Tangdhar have also been closed due to adverse weather conditions.

Over 2,000 vehicles are stranded on the highway due to the closure.

An official of the Airport Authority of India said all incoming and outgoing flights at Srinagar Airport have been cancelled.

"A call on afternoon flights will be taken only after reassessing the weather situation," the official said.

The residents of Srinagar and other parts of the valley woke up to unseasonal snowfall, setting in an early winter chill in Kashmir as the minimum temperature fell below the freezing point for the first time this season, an official of the Indian Meteorological Department said.

The snowfall has disrupted life in Kashmir as power was snapped in the early hours.

A police official said there were reports of many trees and electric poles getting uprooted due to the heavy snowfall.

While most of the vehicles remained off roads, few cars and cabs could be seen on roads, but drivers were facing difficulty in manoeuvring vehicles in view of accumulation of snow.

Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary said the district administration has taken up restoration works on a war-footing.

"We have 45 machines on snow clearance job while de-watering pumps have been put into service using generators to ensure there is no waterlogging. As many 37 power stations have been restored so far while the remaining stations will also be restored in the next few hours," he said.

Srinagar city received around 11cm of snow till 11.30am while the valley's gateway town of Qazigund in south Kashmir received 12cm of snowfall.

Gulmarg, where snowfall began on Wednesday, recorded the highest snowfall of 62cm so far, the official said.

Higher reaches of Kashmir including Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Kupwara received first snowfall on Wednesday while the plains were lashed by rains.

Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.6 degrees Celsius compared with the previous night's 5.4 degrees Celsius, a drop of six degrees.

Gulmarg was the coldest place in the newly formed Union territory, recording a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius while other weather stations also recorded a minimum temperature hovering around the freezing point, an IMD official said.

Officials in Jammu said that upper reaches of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch and Kathua districts also received snowfall.

In the plains of Jammu, heavy rains continued triggering cold wave conditions.