Fresh snowfall over the last few days has transformed the Kashmir valley into a winter wonderland, bringing much-needed precipitation but also disrupting travel and leading to avalanche warnings in the higher reaches.
Season’s First Snowfall Covers Valley in White
After a dry spell of over two months, the Kashmir valley finally received its first snowfall of the season on February 2nd. As per the local meteorological department, the plains including Srinagar city recorded moderate snowfall, ending the prolonged dry and cold spell.
Snow covered streets in Srinagar. (Image: PTI)
The upper reaches of the valley including tourist destinations like Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Pahalgam also received heavy snowfall. Drone footage captured the stunning sight of Gulmarg covered in a thick blanket of snow.
Traffic and Flights Disrupted
The snowfall affected road connectivity and disrupted flight operations to and from the Kashmir valley. The Srinagar-Jammu national highway was closed, while traffic on the historic Mughal road remained suspended for the fourth consecutive day.
All flights at Srinagar International Airport were cancelled on Saturday due to poor visibility and heavy snowfall. Over 30 flights including those from Delhi, Jammu and Mumbai were cancelled, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded. Air traffic is likely to remain affected over the next few days due to continuing bad weather.
Trains Halted, Avalanche Warning Issued
With snow accumulation on tracks, all train services in the Kashmir valley were suspended. An avalanche warning was also issued for travelers and tourists in the higher reaches of the Pir Panjal mountain range. People living in avalanche prone areas were asked to take precautionary measures.
- The local MeT department has predicted more rain and snowfall over the next few days
- Night temperatures are likely to dip further leading to freezing conditions
- Traffic movement on national highways may remain affected for next 2-3 days
- Tourist activities have picked up, but visitors advised caution in hilly areas
- Electricity & water supply may be impacted in case snowfall continues
Locals Welcome Late Snowfall
Unlike previous years when it would snow in December itself, this year Kashmir saw a delayed onset of winters. While the dry spell led to fears of impact on agriculture and horticulture, the recent snowfall and rainfall has brought much relief.
The local community has welcomed the snowfall, as it replenishes the water reservoirs and aids crops like saffron and almonds that form the backbone of the rural economy here. With tourists flocking back, the hospitality industry is also hopeful of recovering from the losses faced in the past three years due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Weather Likely to Remain Chilly
According to Sonum Lotus, Director of the Meteorological Department in Srinagar, the snowfall is in line with the forecast of ‘Chillai Kalan’ – the peak winter period between December and January when chances of snowfall are maximum due to western disturbances.
He added that minimum temperatures are expected to remain below the freezing point over the next week. Locals have been advised to take adequate precautions and stock essential supplies. Tourists planning to travel to the upper reaches and snow-covered areas should check weather advisories beforehand and exercise caution.
With weather forecasts predicting more precipitation including some heavy snowfall especially in the higher reaches, it looks like winters are here to stay in Kashmir for some time. For the locals who have been dealing with a warm & dry winter so far, it is now time to hunker down till spring arrives in March!
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