Snow and rain lash Kashmir Valley

January 16th, 2009 - 4:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Jan 16 (IANS) The Kashmir Valley and its higher reaches experienced snowfall Friday morning, forcing the closure of the strategic Jammu-Srinagar highway.”The highway was closed because of snowfall in Banihal and Qazigund areas, but snow clearing operation is on to restore vehicular traffic on the road today (Friday),” an official of the traffic department said here.

Srinagar residents shivered in the rain and chilly winds; light snowfall continued in the countryside.

“Reports of moderate snowfall have also come in from the Gulmarg ski resort where winter sport lovers from the country and abroad are enjoying the sport these days,” said an official of the local tourism department here.

“We expect the same weather conditions to continue for a few days more because of the western disturbance passing over the valley,” said an official of the weather office here.

Traditionally, the 40-day period from Dec 22 to Jan 31 is believed to be the harshest part of the Kashmir winter and is known as the ‘Chilla Kalan’.

“The snow reserves in the valley’s rivers are actually made of the snowfall during this period,” said Habibullah, 65, a retired school teacher who lives in Ganderbal district.

“A heavy snowfall during Chilla Kalan is very essential for uninterrupted irrigation, hydro-electric power supply and drinking water during the summer months. So far, we haven’t had any major snowfall here and we pray it snows during the month of January so that prospects for both horticulture and agriculture start improving.”

By Kashmir standards, the winter so far has been moderate and the frozen water bodies and huge hanging icicles from rooftops are still missed by the locals.

“Global warming and the indiscriminate felling of forests are the main reasons for such a phenomenon,” said Nazir Ahmad, 29, a research scholar at Kashmir University here.

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