Srinagar: The Srinagar-Jammu national highway was reopened on Sunday after seven days in the wake of heavy snowfall last week, even as the city and some other parts of Kashmir received another spell of snowfall, officials said. The 260 kilometre-long highway — the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country — was re-opened for fresh traffic on Sunday morning, the officials said.
They, however, said only one-way traffic was allowed from Jammu towards Srinagar. The highway was blocked on January 3 due to accumulation of snow and landslides and shooting stones in the wake of heavy snowfall.
Many vehicles were stranded on the highway which remained closed for traffic for five days. The road was cleared on Friday, but only stranded vehicles were allowed to move that day and Saturday.
However, as the weather improved and the condition of the road was also better, fresh traffic was allowed to ply this morning, the officials said. The Mughal Road — the alternate road-link which connects the valley to Jammu division through Shopian-Rajouri axis — was closed for traffic due to heavy snowfall in the region, the officials added.
Some parts of the valley, including Srinagar, received another spell of snowfall on Sunday, which briefly affected the flight operations at the airport here. Srinagar and some other areas experienced fresh snowfall early in the morning an unexpected spell of back-to-back snowfall after light snow on Saturday and the heavy snowfall earlier in the week, the officials said. They said the city recorded about an inch of snow till 8.30 am.
Some areas, especially in south Kashmir, also received snowfall which, however, stopped after some time, they added. The officials said there were no reports of snowfall at the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg, in north Kashmir, and Pahalgam tourist resort in the south.
While the MeT office had forecast very light rains or snowfall at isolated places in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, there was no such forecast for Sunday. However, it said, the weather would improve around the noon on Sunday.
There is no forecast of any major snowfall and the weather is likely to stay mainly dry till January 14, the MeT office said. The fresh snowfall briefly affected the air traffic to and fro the Kashmir valley as some morning flights at the Srinagar airport were delayed, the officials said. They said the flight operations were hampered due to poor visibility. Visibility was lower than as required for the smooth flight operations at the airport, so there was some delay in the morning flights, the officials said.
The air traffic was affected on Saturday as well as most of the flights to and fro the valley were cancelled due to poor visibility and bad weather following a spell of snowfall in the morning. However, the air traffic resumed later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the MeT office said the minimum temperature improved across the valley, but still settled below the freezing point. Srinagar city — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir — recorded a low of minus 2.6 degrees Celsius – up from minus 4.0 degrees Celsius the previous night, the officials said.
The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 7.2 degrees Celsius up from minus 10.0 degrees Celsius the night earlier. Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 5.9 degrees Celsius. Qazigund recorded a minimum temperature of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius, Kupwara, in the north, minus 1.5 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, minus 1.3 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai-Kalan' — the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley. The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall. While 'Chillai-Kalan' — which began on December 21 — will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long 'Chillai-Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day-long 'Chillai-Bachha' (baby cold).