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Sunday Special » Kaleidoscope

Posted at: Jan 8, 2017, 12:41 AM; last updated: Jan 8, 2017, 2:23 AM (IST)

The Queen is crowned, again

Pratibha Chauhan in Shimla
The Queen is crowned, again
Shimla 0.4°C: Christmas brought happy tidings for Shimla. And New Year brought hundreds of tourists to the city’s famous spots. Photo: Amit Kanwar
Making a snowman, sledging down the hillside and sipping hot ginger tea around a glowing bonfire -- all this looked like past. Till last night when snowfall, one of the heaviest in recent years, turned the Queen of Hills white.

The residents woke up to a new day after such a long time. “It had been so disappointing to see either no snow or very little of it over the last few years,” says Hari Chand Gupta, a retired government employee. He reminisces how people would happily walk to office in two-three feet of snow.

Vehicular traffic in most parts has come to a halt and water and power supply have been disrupted. The Shimla Municipal Corporation has pressed snow clearance machines to clear the main roads, but with snow still continuing, it might prove to be a daunting task. 

“The ‘western disturbance’ coming from the Mediterranean area and reaching Shimla from Afghanistan, Pakistani and Kashmir is not all that strong. But Manali is closer to the Pir Panjal range and gets better snowfall,” says SS Randhwana, principal scientific officer in the State Council for Science, Technology and Environment.

Interestingly, Shimla hasn’t got even a fraction of the snowfall that it used to get a decade ago. “The micro climatic changes can be attributed to factors such as haphazard concrete constructions, rise in temperature, much higher vehicular pollution, resulting in the temperature not being sufficiently low for the snowfall,” says Manmohan Singh, Director of the local Meteorological Centre. Over the years, the tourism industry has borne the brunt of snowfall deficiency. “News of even a mild snowfall brings tourists in large numbers. This appears to change for now,” says Harnam Kukreja, president of the Shimla Hoteliers Association. 

A 2015 study by The Energy and Resource Institute (TERI) on Climate Change has indicated overall warming in Himachal with the annual mean temperature being projected to increase by 1.3-1.9°C for 2021-2050 relative to 1971-2000. 

This December remained the warmest, breaking all records. The monthly average minimum temperature was 8.6 degree Celsius which was 8.3 degree Celsius in 2008. Before 2008, the monthly highest minimum temperature was 7.7 degrees C in 1918.

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