Friday, January 31, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Snow cuts off valley
Tribune News Service and PTI

Tourists walk during a snowfall in Shimla on Thursday.
Tourists take a walk during snowfall in Shimla on Thursday. — Photo Anil Dayal

Srinagar/Chandigarh, January 30
Heavy snowfall and rain lashed the north-west region today leading to the closure of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, cutting off the valley from the rest of the country and leaving a number of passengers stranded.

The 300-km long highway, the only road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was closed for traffic this afternoon following heavy snowfall between Qazigund and the Jawahar Tunnel.

Heavy rainfall was recorded in areas beyond Jawahar Tunnel, triggering landslides at various places.

The entire northwest region was again in the grip of cold wave following renewed spells of snow in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, besides isolated rains in Punjab and Haryana since the wee hours today.

Fog in the morning hours again disrupted rail, road and air traffic today. While most of the trains reached their destinations one-to-two hours behind schedule, vehicular traffic moved at a snail’s pace with headlights on.

The Indian Airlines cancelled its Delhi-Chandigarh-Delhi-Mumbai-Goa flight while the Jet Airways’ Delhi-Chandigarh-Delhi flight was delayed by two hours. A private airlines flight from Delhi to Kulu and Gaggal via Shimla, too, was cancelled due to bad weather.

Shimla reported snowfall coupled with rains again today. By 2.30 pm, 3 mm of precipitation had been recorded while the minimum temperature stayed 2.3°C.

The day temperature in and around Chandigarh, Panchkula in Haryana and Mohali in Punjab saw the maximum dipping to 16°C. By 2.30 pm, more than 1 mm of rainfall had been recorded. As light rains continued, an overcast sky portended more rains later in the day and overnight. However, the minimum, under an overcast sky, rose by two degrees above normal to 10.2°C.

The world famous tourist and skiing resort of Gulmarg in the Kashmir valley had received 5 cm snowfall till this morning while Sonmarg, Kokernag, the Peer Panjal range of mountains, Banihal and Qazigund reported 1cm to 10 cm of snowfall.

The entire forward area of Dras and Sonmarg reeled under subzero temperatures, ranging between -5°C and -20°C.

The Weather Bureau attributed rains and snow to the Western Disturbances (WD) moving over J and K and the neighbourhood. Under the influence of WD, heavy rainfall or snow could occur at a few places, coupled with light to moderate rains or snow at many a places in the hill states over the next 48 hours and rain at a few places in Punjab and Haryana.

Ambala received 2 mm of rainfall by the afternoon while Ludhiana had the minimum rising by two degrees to 10.4°C with traces of rain today.

Amritsar reported 1.2 mm of rainfall and the low of 8.2°C, which was three degrees more than the normal.

SHIMLA: Life in the hill state was thrown out of gear as heavy snow and rain lashed the region throughout the day.

The snowfall which was initially confined to the higher ranges extended to the lower hills by the afternoon. While the town and its surrounding areas had received 5 cm to 10 cm of snowfall by the evening, the nearby tourist resort of Kufri had been covered with a thick white blanket.

According to reports reaching here, Narkanda recorded 30 cm of snowfall and the Hatoo peak overlooking it had 50 cm. Dalhousie, Manali and Chail also had intermittent snow.

The tribal areas of Kinnaur, Lahaul-Spiti and Pangi have been experiencing incessant snow since the wee hours of the day.

The Dhauladhar range overlooking the Kangra valley, the Saketi hills in Mandi and Churdhar in Sirmaur also experienced heavy snow.

The upper areas of Shimla and the Kinnaur district have been cut off due to heavy snow. The state road transport corporation diverted the Rampur-bound buses via Basantpur.

The snow, which is considered as white manure of the apple orchards, has brought cheer to the growers.

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