Srinagar/Jammu: Over a month-long dry spell in Jammu and Kashmir ended today with the higher reaches receiving fresh snowfall while the plains were lashed by rains, leading to a rise in minimum temperature at most places across the valley and Ladakh region.
Many areas in the higher reaches of Kashmir received fresh snowfall during the night, the Meteorological (MeT) Department officials said.
They said Gulmarg, the famous ski-resort in north Kashmir, recorded 15 cm (about six inches) of fresh snowfall till 8:30 am this morning.
The officials said light snowfall was also recorded at the other famous health resort of Pahalgam in south Kashmir.
Srinagar recorded a minimum temperature of 3.1 degrees Celsius, up by over four degrees from the previous night’s minus 1.2 degrees Celsius, the official said, adding that the city received 4.3 mm of rainfall during the night.
The minimum temperature across the Jammu region rose by several notches to settle above average during this part of the season as the city and other plains were lashed by rains.
Jammu city had last witnessed light rains on 15 November after over two months of dry spell.
They said the night temperature in Jammu city, which recorded 6.4 mm of rainfall till 0830 hours, settled two degrees above normal at 11.6 degrees Celsius against the previous nights 9.4 degrees Celsius.
The mercury at all other places in the valley settled above the freezing point.
The resort recorded a low of minus 2.4 degrees Celsius over two degrees down from the previous night’s zero degrees Celsius.
They said the night temperatures in Srinagar stayed above the freezing point after 12 days.
The night temperature at Qazigund, in south Kashmir, increased by over six degrees from minus 2.1 degrees Celsius the previous night to settle at a low of 4.0 degrees Celsius.
The MeT officials said Kokernag town recorded a low of 3.1 degrees Celsius, up from 0.8 degrees Celsius the previous night.
Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a low of 1.9 degrees Celsius compared to the previous night’s minus 2.4 degrees Celsius, they said.
The health resort of Pahalgam — which serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra – registered the minimum temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius as against minus 2.1 degrees Celsius the previous night, the officials said.
Leh continued to be the coldest recorded place in the state as the mercury settled at a low of minus 3.7 degrees Celsius last night, which though, was an increase of over six degrees from minus 9.7 degrees Celsius the previous night, they said.
The nearby Kargil town recorded a low of 0.1 degrees Celsius over nine degrees up from the previous night’s minus 9.2 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
The night temperature in Kargil stayed above the freezing point for the first time in about a month.
There are reports of snowfall in other areas in the higher reaches of the valley like Gurez, Tulail, Razdan Pass, Sonamarg, Zojila, Amarnath Cave, Sadhna Top and Affarwat.
The officials said plain areas in Kashmir, including the summer capital Srinagar, received rains which were going on at many places.
This is the first major wet spell during the current season in the state, they said.
The cloud cover in the sky brought respite from the intense cold wave conditions as the mercury rose by several degrees across the Kashmir division, except at Gulmarg.
The officials said Gulmarg was the only place in the Kashmir Valley where the night temperatures decreased last night and settled below the freezing point.
In Jammu region, about one feet of snow was recorded in the Peer Ki Gali area along the Mughal road, connecting twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri with south Kashmir Shopian district, till this morning, they said.
Mughal road, an alternate link between the Kashmir Valley and the rest of the country, was closed for vehicular traffic due to snowfall, the officials said.
The traffic on the Mughal road was suspended around 4:00 pm yesterday as a precautionary measure in view of the weather forecast indicating possibility of moderate to heavy snowfall in the high altitude areas under the influence of western disturbance from 11 to 14 December, an official said.
“No vehicle was allowed to move on the road from either side this morning. A 25-km stretch of the road from Peer Ki Gali to Pachana (Poonch) is covered by snow,” he said.
The officials said snowfall was also reported in the hills around Jawahar Tunnel along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway – the all weather road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, but failed to disrupt the traffic.
“The traffic on the highway was going on smoothly from both sides when last reports were received,” they said.
Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in Reasi district, recorded a low of 11.0 degrees Celsius.
The MeT office has forecast moderate to heavy rains or snowfall at isolated places, especially in the higher reaches, in the state over the next two days.