M A I N   N E W S

White New Year in Kashmir Valley

Shimla/Srinagar, January 1
Severe cold wave tightened its grip over the North on Saturday. Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and its adjoining areas and higher reaches of Himachal had fresh snow today.

The Kashmir valley remained cut off from the rest of the country. The 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was not opened to traffic on Saturday.

The snowfall accompanied by cold winds forced people to remain indoors.

A report from Charar-e-Sharief said about one and a half feet of snowfall was recorded since last evening.

However, the fresh snow came as a bonus to those who had assembled at the world famous skiing resort of Gulmarg to celebrate the New Year.

About one feet of fresh snowfall was recorded at Gulmarg, making it more comfortable for the skiiers who had come from different parts of the country.

A number of tourists were overjoyed when they witnessed the snowfall.

The tourist spots of Yusmarg, Khilanmarg, Deksum, Aharabal, Neelnag and Sonmarg also experienced one to two feet of fresh snowfall since last evening.

It snowed heavily at the holy shrine of Amarnath caves, Mahaguns, Sheshnag, Pissu Top and Chandanwari where more than one to five feet of snow had already accumulated.

The Zojila Pass, the highest point on the 434-km-long Srinagar-Leh National Highway also experienced fresh snowfall.

Meanwhile, official sources said hundreds of vehicles, including some passenger vehicles, and trucks loaded with essential commodities were stranded on either side of the Highway. Sources said efforts are being made to clear the Highway so that the stranded vehicles could be allowed to move towards their respective destinations.

In Himachal Pradesh the entire tribal belt and other higher reaches experienced intermittent heavy snowfall while the mid and lower hills were lashed by rain and sleet.

The tribal valleys of Lahaul, Spiti and Pangi had another spell of heavy snowfall during past 24 hours while the sprawling Dhauladhar ranges in Kangra and Churdhar ranges in Sirmaur had intermittent snowfall.

About 50 cm of fresh snow was recorded in Spiti valley while the 13,050 ft high Rohtang pass and Kunzam, Saach and Chansel passes had 50 to 70 cm of fresh snow.

The state capital was lashed by rain and sleet accompanied by strong velocity winds but there was no snowfall in the key resorts of Kufri, Fagu and Narkanda.

There was marginal fall of 1C in maximum and minimum temperature which stood at 10.5C and 5.5C, respectively. The town received 8.5 mm of rain and sleet but no snow. PTI, UNI

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