Fresh snowfall disrupted normal life in Jammu and Kashmir, where an avalanche warning was issued in five districts, higher reaches and tribal areas of Himachal Pradesh and the Garhwal region of Uttarakhand on Monday.
In Kashmir, moderate to very heavy snowfall since Sunday night stalled road, rail and air traffic, while nearly 500 roads, including three national highways, were closed in Himachal Pradesh.
Officials said flight operations at the Srinagar airport were suspended due to poor visibility and accumulation of snow on the runway. The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was closed to traffic due landslides at many places along the arterial road and train services on the Baramulla-Banihal route were also suspended.
Srinagar received about seven inches of snowfall, Gulmarg more than a foot, Pahalgam nine inches, Gurez 1.5 feet and the plains of Kupwara district around four inches, they said,
Avalanches of medium danger level are likely to occur above 2500 metres over Bandipora, Baramulla, Ganderbal, Kupwara and Ramban in the next 24 hours, officials of the Jammu and Kashmir Disaster Management Authority (JKDMA) said and advised people to restrict movement and evacuate unprotected settlements.
The police rescued three tourists from Uttar Pradesh who were caught in heavy snowfall near Nathatop on the Nathatop-Sanasar Road in Ramban district.
The meteorological department predicted heavy snowfall, and rains with thunderstorms in the plains of Jammu, over the next 12 hours.
In Himachal Pradesh, moderate to heavy snow was recorded in parts of Shimla, Kinnaur, Lahaul and Spiti, Kullu and Chamba districts, choking traffic and disrupting water and power supply in many areas.
The snow led to the closure of 496 roads, including three national highways, for vehicular traffic while 908 transformers were affected in the state.
Rohtang pass, Chitkul and the Atal Tunnel's south portal received 75 cm of snow, followed by Khadrala in Shimla district at 60 cm, Solang at 55 cm, Kufri at 16 cm, Keylong and Samdo at 14 cm each and Manali at 3 cm.
Icy winds pummelled the region with the Met Office issuing an 'orange' alert for heavy rains and snowfall at isolated places in the mid and high hills of Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur later in the day.
It has also predicted thunderstorms and lightning and wet weather in the lower hills till Friday.
Widespread rains lashed the mid and lower hills with Dalhousie the wettest, recording 60 mm.
It was followed by Rampur at 24 mm, Shimla at 21 mm, Chamba at 19 mm, Seobagh at 16 mm, Dharamshala and Dhaula Kuan at 15 mm and Manali at 14 mm.
In Shimla, Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnur districts, 180, 158 and 73 roads were blocked respectively.
There have also been reports of the power supply being disrupted in some places. As many as 37 roads were blocked in Kullu, 27 in Chamba, 11 in Sirmaur, eight in Mandi and two in Kangra.
The Shimla police has requested commuters to avoid unnecessary travel and take proper precautions.
Work to clear the roads is going on and adequate efforts are being made to restore connectivity, police officials said.
Minimum temperatures also declined by a few notches with Keylong, Kalpa and Narkanda recording a low of minus 4.1 degrees Celsius, minus 2 degrees and minus 1.4 degrees, respectively.
The key tourist destinations of Kufri, Manali, Dalhousie and Shimla shivered at minus 0.1 degree Celsius, 0.4 degrees, 1 degree and 1.6 degrees, respectively.
The fresh snow and rain have reduced the rainfall deficit in January to 2 per cent in Himachal.
Farmers have been advised to take precautions against waterlogging.
The Garhwal region of Uttarakhand also witnessed fresh snowfall and rain on Monday, an official from the meteorological department said.
The Kumaon region remained largely dry, MeT Director Bikram Singh said.
Garhwal's Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri were all covered in a thick layer of snow, while its lower areas, including the subsidence-hit Joshimath, were lashed with rains.
"Places located 2,500 metres and above received snow. The lower areas received showers," Singh said.
Tyuni in Dehradun district received 43.6 mm of rain, Chakrata 40.2 mm, Purola in Uttarkashi 40 mm and Dhanolti in Tehri district 22 mm of rain, he said.
The weather is likely to clear from Tuesday, Singh added.