Kashmir cut off due to snowfall; air, road traffic affected

Srinagar, Dec 12  The Kashmir valley was cut off from the rest of the country today as flight operations at the Srinagar airport were suspended and the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway and Mughal road were closed for traffic due to snowfall and rain.

The present weather conditions in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to continue till Thursday due to a western disturbance over the state, the meteorological (MeT) office said.

The 300-km long highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was closed following heavy rains and snowfall at several places, including the Jawahar Tunnel, and incidents of shooting stones near Panthal.

In Jammu, the Mughal road, connecting Poonch and Rajouri with south Kashmir’s Shopian district, was also closed after heavy snowfall in Pir Ki Gali.

“The highway and the Mughal road are closed for the second day today. The highway was closed due to heavy snowfall at the Jawahar Tunnel, the Patnitop and Ramban areas and landslides at Pathiyal. There has been heavy snowfall in Pir Ki Gali and other areas en route Mughal road,” police officials said.

In the state’s summer capital, flight services to and fro from the Srinagar International Airport were hit due to poor visibility caused by the heavy snowfall, airport authorities said.

Director, Srinagar airport, Sharad Kumar said, “Air traffic to and fro from the airport has been suspended due to low visibility. There has been no improvement in the visibility around the airport so far.”

“We are monitoring the situation. If visibility improves, we will resume flight operations,” he said.

However, in Gulmarg, the coldest in Jammu and Kashmir at minus 6.5 degrees Celsius, the spell of snowfall brightened prospects for winter sports as nearly four feet of snow accumulated at the ski resort.

Srinagar, which is experiencing intermittent rains since morning, received snowfall till 10 am, while heavy snowfall was recorded in Sonamarg and Baltal, base camps of the annual Amarnath Yatra in central Kashmir, the MeT office said.

Moderate snowfall was reported from across south Kashmir, including Pahalgam, a tourist resort, where seven inches of snow has accumulated so far, it said, adding 3.5 feet of snow accumulated at Sonamarg.

The Srinagar-Kargil, Bandipora-Gurez, Kupwara-Macchil, Kupwara-Keran and Kupwara-Karnah roads were also closed, police officials said.

In Jammu, there was very heavy snowfall in the hill regions of Doda, Kishtwar, Ramban, Kathua, Rajouri, Reasi and Poonch districts, due to which some inter-district and inter- state roads were closed.

Kargil in Kashmir recorded minus 3 degrees Celsius, Leh minus 1.4 degrees Celsius, Kokernag minus 0.6 degrees Celsius, Srinagar minus 0.2 degrees.

The MeT has forecast more snow and rain in the valley over the next few days.

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