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Joy comes to Kashmir as valley witnesses season's first snowfall

Last updated on: January 29, 2015 14:59 IST

Kashmir Valley on Thursday experienced fresh snowfall with most places, especially the plains, witnessing the first snow of the season, breaking the prolonged dry spell at the fag end of 'Chillai-Kalan', the 40-day period of harshest winter. While the snowfall was mild and brief, it nonetheless brought much joy to the locals.

A boy builds a snowman after the season's first snowfall came to Kashmir. Photograph: Umar Ganie

"Most places in Kashmir Valley witnessed fresh snowfall since early morning," Director, Meteorological Department, Sonam Lotus said.

Lotus, however, said that the snowfall would not last long.

The valley mainland had been sans snow ever since the onset of the current winter season even though the higher reaches and mountain resorts like Gulmarg and Pahalgam received a couple of snowfalls.

A train snakes through snow covered tracks in Anantnag. Photograph: Umar Ganie

The valley has been under a dry spell resulting in huge slump in winter tourism which further hit the tourism industry after it received a heavy blow following September 2014 devastating floods.

"Though Pahalgam recorded about three inches of snowfall till 8.30 am, there were no reports of heavy snowfall from any part of the Valley and the snow would not last long," he said.

Owing to cloudy sky, the minimum temperature across the Valley appreciated giving the residents some relief from the intense cold conditions.

Children play with snow in Pahalgam. Photograph: Umar Ganie

Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir recorded a low of minus 0.2 degrees Celsius, two degrees up from the previous night's minus 2.3 degrees Celsius, the official said.

The city recorded 0.3 mm of snowfall, first of this season, in the morning.

The mercury in the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir registered an increase of two degrees as the minimum settled at minus 8.6 degrees Celsius, compared to minus 10.6 degrees Celsius the previous night, he said.

Locals in Gulmarg ride on horses as they move across slippery streets. Photograph: Umar Ganie

The resort recorded 0.4 mm of snowfall till 8.30 am, he said.

The southern Pahalgam hill resort, which serves as a base camp during annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a minimum of minus 2.2 degrees Celsius, up by over four degrees from the previous night's minus 6.6 degrees Celsius, said the Meteorological Department official, adding, that Pahalgam recorded 9 cm of snowfall.

Kupwara town in north Kashmir, which recorded a low of minus 4.2 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, registered an increase of over three degrees as the mercury settled at minus 0.6 degrees Celsius, he said.

Tourists being pulled on the soft snow by sledges in Kashmir Valley. Photograph: Umar Ganie

Qaziund, the gateway town to Kashmir, recorded a minimum of zero degree Celsius against minus 0.9 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said, adding, that the town recorded 2 cm of snowfall.

Kokernag in south Kashmir registered a low of minus 1.1 degrees Celsius, up nearly four degrees from Wednesday's minus 4.9 degrees Celsius.

Kokernag recorded 3.7 mm of snow in the morning.

Tourists play with snowballs in Kashmir after light snowfalls swept across the valley. Photograph: Umar Ganie

The night temperature increased by over four degrees in Leh town of the frontier region of Ladakh to settle at minus 12.2 degrees Celsius, compared to minus 16.4 degrees Celsius on Wdnesday, he said.

In the nearby town of Kargil, the minimum temperature increased by around two degrees from minus 16.0 degrees Celsius to settle at minus 13.7 degrees Celsius, he said.

Kashmir Valley is currently under the grip of 'Chillai-Kalan' during which the chances of snowfall are maximum and most frequent.

Girls walk back home across a snow draped bridge after the season's first snowfall in Kashmir Valley. Photograph: Umar Ganie

Though 'Chillai-Kalan' would end on January 31, the winter continues after that. The 40-day period would be followed by a 20-day long 'Chillai Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day long 'Chillai Bachha' (baby cold).

The locals are concerned at the lack of snowfalls this winter as it will impact the glacial water resources hampering potable water supply and water supply for agriculture and horticulture requirements.

Last year the valley received a couple of heavy snowfalls including the heaviest one in the first week of March.

The victims of September floods living in tented accommodation, however, are happy at the snowless winter as warmer days during the core of winter locally called ‘Chillai-Kalan’ was according to them a ‘divine succour’.

The local Meteorological Department office has forecast heavy rains and snow in the first week of February.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
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