Cold wave conditions intensified across Kashmir as the minimum temperature at most places in the valley went down, even as the Meteorological Department has forecast a further fall in the temperature over the next few days.
Barring Gulmarg, the famous skiing resort in north Kashmir, the minimum temperature at all other weather stations in the Kashmir valley went down on Wednesday night, the officials said.
Snow lies knee-deep in the pastoral town of Gulmarg, or “meadow of flowers,” on Kashmir’s high plateau.
Authorities have carried out snow-clearance operations in all major towns in the region. The officials said Pahalgam, which serves as the base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 8.9 degrees Celsius down from minus 6.6 degrees Celsius the previous night.
Possibility of rain
The MET Office has forecast further fall in the minimum temperature over the next few days.
It said there is possibility of light rain/snow at a few places mostly in higher reaches over next two days, while as there is likelihood of widespread snow/rain of moderate intensity during January 14 to 16.
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 'Chilla-i-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).
With its blanket of white, the idyllic hill station is devoid of tourists again, who used to fill its hotels and ski, sledge and trek its Himalayan landscape, due to a surge in coronavirus cases of Omicron variant.
The Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries pegged the economic losses in the region at $5.3 billion and about half a million jobs lost till August last year.