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Kashmir, HP highways closed
Snow, rain cause landslides

Shimla/Srinagar, January 21
The cold wave sweeping across the northern region tightened its grip as Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir received fresh snowfall today.

Solang Nullah (8 cm), Dhundi (22 cm), Patsio (2 cm) received snow while Manali, Sujanpur Thira, Nadaun and Guler in Himachal Pradesh were lashed by rain, the Meteorological Department said here.

The Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only link between Kashmir valley and the rest of the country, was closed for vehicles due to landslides.

"The national highway has been closed for traffic due to landslides at two places near Ramban, 150 km from here," an official of the traffic department said.

Srinagar recorded 4.3 mm of snowfall, Qazigund 9.8 mm and Pahalgam 2 mm. Jammu, Batote and Katra received 1.2 mm, 7.3 mm and 7.2 mm rainfall, a meteorological department official said here.

A massive landslide caused by rain blocked the Hindustan-Tibet National Highway near Theog in Shimla district today.

Official reports reaching here said the landslide occurred 12 km from Theog. The highway cut off the road to Narkanda.

Vehicular traffic to the sub-divisional town of Rampur has been diverted via Basantpur.

People living in higher reaches of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal have been issued avalanche warning for the next 48 hours following a forecast of moderate to heavy snowfall in the region.

Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment (SASE) Deputy Director Ashwagosha Ganju today said medium danger avalanche activity was likely to build up in areas above 2,000 metres in Kupwara, Baramula, Sopore, Anantnag, Kargil, Doda and Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, besides HP and Uttaranchal.

Chandigarh and surrounding areas in Punjab and Haryana experienced drizzles since early morning and the day temperatures plummeted by almost 7 degrees below normal to settle at around 14C.

The tribal areas of Lahaul-Spiti, Kinnaur and Pangi were having intermittent snow since last night. The higher reaches of Dhauladhar ranges overlooking the Kangra valley, the Saketi hills Mandi, the Hatoo peak and Chanshal slopes in Shimla district also had snow.

According to reports reaching here Narkanda, Kharapathar and Dodra Kawar had received 10 to 15 cm of snow by the evening. The nearby tourist resort of Kufri had a snow. The Solang nallah, Marhi and Rohtang pass in Kulu had a fresh round of snow.

The state capital and its surrounding areas were lashed by rain and sleet accompanied by high velocity winds which brought down the minimum temperature to 1.7 degree C. The streets wore a deserted look as severe cold forced the people to stay indoors.

The lower areas of the state had widespread rain. Kulu, Dharamsala, Solan, Bilaspur and Mandi had brisk showers.

The rain is considered beneficial for the standing rabi crop. The apple belt has so far not received much snow this season and growers are praying for snow. Considered as white manure for the apple orchards snow is essential for a good crop.

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