Heavy snowfall, rains throw normal life out of gear; four killed in Valley

TNN Bureau. Updated: 11/8/2019 11:44:13 AM Front Page

National highway shut, flight operations cancelled, power supply snapped

JAMMU/SRINAGAR: Heavy snowfall across Kashmir and upper reaches of Jammu region, coupled with incessant rains in plains threw the normal life out of gear across the union territory, even as at least four persons were killed in separate incidents in Kashmir Valley on Thursday.
The arterial Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic while all flights to and fro Srinagar airport were cancelled, even as mercury dipped significantly—to sub-zero in Gulmarg, triggering cold wave conditions, amidst a power blackout in Valley and some districts of Jammu divisions as well.
The weather department, which had predicted widespread moderate to heavy snowfall and rains across Jammu and Kashmir for three days starting from Wednesday, said that the weather conditions will start improving from Friday.
Kashmir witnessed its first snowfall of the season, plunging the mercury to sub-zero in Gulmarg and bringing woes galore as major disruptions are reported on roads, in power supply, besides air traffic being hit.
Four persons, including two locals working as Army porters, died in separate incidents following heavy snowfall in different parts of the Valley.
The two porters identified as Manzoor Ahmed and Ishaq Khan died after coming under an avalanche near a forward post along the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir district of Kupwara.
Official sources said that two local porters slipped and fell from a mountain due to heavy snowfall at Jumgund sector.
“A search and rescue operation was immediately launched to save the porters. However, both the porters died after being buried under several feet of snow.
“The bodies of the duo are being retrieved and will be handed over to their relatives for last rites,” they added.
In another incident, an employee of the Power Development Department (PDD) died while trying to restore power supply, which has been disrupted by heavy snowfall in Kashmir.
Manzoor Ahmad, an inspector in the PDD, fell off a pole and died on the spot in Srinagar, the officials said.
They said the Srinagar district administration has sanctioned an immediate ex-gratia relief of Rs two lakh in favour of the next of the kin of the deceased PDD employee.
In yet another incident, a pedestrian died after he was hit by a branch of a Chinar tree which broke off under the weight of snow in Habak area of the Srinagar city, the officials said.
They said a cab and an autorickshaw were also damaged in the incident.
Kashmir witnessed its first snowfall of the season, plunging the mercury to sub-zero in Gulmarg and bringing woes galore as major disruptions are reported on roads, in power supply, besides air traffic being hit.
The snowfall also cut off the valley from the rest of the country as the arterial Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic while all flights to and fro Srinagar airport were cancelled, officials said here.
Over 2000 vehicles are stranded on the highway due to the closure.
An official of the traffic department told that roads which connect the summer capital with far-flung areas like Gurez, Macchil, Keran and Tangdhar have also been closed due to adverse weather conditions.
An official of the Airport Authority of India said all incoming and outgoing flights at Srinagar Airport have been cancelled.
"A call on afternoon flights will be taken only after reassessing the weather situation," the official said.
The residents of Srinagar and other parts of the valley woke up to an unseasonal snowfall, setting in early winter chill in Kashmir as the minimum temperature fell below the freezing point for the first time this season, an official of the MET department said.
The maximum temperature in Kashmir was recorded in Srinagar at seven degrees, while as it is minus 4.6 degree in the hill station of Gulmarg.
Srinagar city received around 11 cm of snow till 11.30 am while the valley's gateway town of Qazigund in south Kashmir received 12 cm of snowfall. Gulmarg, where snowfall began on Wednesday, recorded the highest snowfall of 62 cm so far, the official said.
Last time Srinagar had witnessed snowfall in the month of November was in 2018.
This is fifth time since 2000 when Srinagar recorded snowfall in November. It was earlier in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2018 reveal records available with meteorological department.
Higher reaches of Kashmir including Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Kupwara received first snowfall on Wednesday while the plains were lashed by rains.
Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.6 degrees Celsius compared to the previous night's 5.4 degrees Celsius, a drop of six degrees.
Gulmarg was the coldest place in the newly formed union territory, recording a low of minus 4.6 degrees Celsius while other weather stations also recorded a minimum temperature hovering around the freezing point, the MET department official said.
Most areas of the valley have plunged into darkness since last night with 330 KV transmission line disrupted due to snowfall.
A police official said there were reports of many trees and electric poles getting uprooted due to the heavy snowfall.
Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary said the district administration has taken up restoration works on a war footing.
"Work is on to restore the 330 KV transmission line that supplies electricity to 200 feeders, 70 per cent of the work has been completed and it is just a matter of a few hours when electricity will be fully restored", Chaudhary said.
"We have 45 machines on snow clearance job while dewatering pumps have been put into service using generators to ensure there is no waterlogging. As many 37 power stations have been restored so far while the remaining stations will also be restored in the next few hours," he said.
While most of the vehicles remained off roads, few cars and cabs could be seen on roads but drivers were facing difficulty in manouvering vehicles in view of accumulation of snow.
"The snow conditions will persist for today, but there will be a substantial improvement in the weather from tomorrow", Sonam Lotus, Director, Meteorological Department informed The News Now on Thursday afternoon.
Meanwhile, in Jammu region, the upper reaches of Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Rajouri, Poonch and Kathua districts also received snowfall.
The Mughal road connecting the valley with the Pir Panjal region was closed for traffic on Wednesday.
In the plains of Jammu, heavy rains continued triggering cold wave conditions.
The incessant rains which started in the wee hours of Thursday continued lashing across the region till late evening, even as there were reports of some trees being uprooted in the Gandhi Nagar area.
On Tuesday the Met department had predicted snow in Kashmir and also had sent an alert about the temporary disruption of the surface transportation, especially over the mountain passes like Zojilla, Srinagar-Jammu highway, Leh-Manali highway, Mughal road, etc., due to the landslides and heavy snowfall.
"Active western disturbance and its interaction with cyclone Maha (Currently lying over the East Central Arabian Sea) is most likely to cause widespread moderate to heavy snowfall and rain in plains of Jammu and Kashmir and also in Ladakh till November 8. It will peak in the night on November 7," the Met Department said.

Comment on this Story