Srinagar, Jan 5 (PTI) Air traffic between Kashmir and the rest of the country remained affected for the second consecutive day on Wednesday due to inclement weather as intermittent snowfall was reported from most parts of the valley over the past 24 hours, officials said here. "Flight operations have not been possible at Srinagar airport today due to inclement weather. Four flights have been cancelled so far," a senior official of the Airport Authority of India told PTI.
He said the resumption of air traffic would depend on the weather conditions. It has been snowing in most places of the valley intermittently over the past few days but the arterial Srinagar-Jammu national highway is open for vehicular traffic, an official of the Traffic Department said. He said motorists have been advised to exercise caution while travelling on the national highway in view of the snowfall. The suspension of air traffic has resulted in hundreds of tourists getting stranded in the valley. Officials in the Tourism Department said a good number of tourists had arrived in Kashmir for celebrating New Year and were planning to return home now. The snowfall has resulted in warmer-than-expected nights in the valley but the weatherman has forecast colder days for next two days. Srinagar recorded the minimum temperature of 0.8 degree Celsius, up from the previous night's 0.6 degrees Celsius, the officials said. Gulmarg, the famous skiing resort in north Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 4 degrees Celsius, up from previous night's 5 degrees Celsius. The officials said Pahalgam, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius, up from minus 1.2 degrees Celsius the previous night. They said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, recorded a minimum of 0.8 degrees Celsius, while the nearby south Kashmir town of Kokernag recorded a low of 0.1 degrees Celsius. The mercury in Kupwara in north Kashmir settled at a low of zero degrees Celsius. The MET Office has forecast widespread snow/rain spell of moderate to heavy intensity till January 8. Heavy snow is expected at some places during the period as well, it said. Kashmir valley is currently under the grip of the 40-day harshest winter period known as 'Chilla-i-Kalan' which began on December 21. 'Chilla-i-Kalan' is a period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies, including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy to very heavy snowfall. The 'Chillai Kalan' will end on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long 'Chillai Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day-long 'Chillai Bachha' (baby cold).