Mercury settles several degrees below freezing point in Kashmir

Kashmir reeled under intense cold wave conditions on Friday as mercury stayed several degrees below the freezing point, resulting in freezing of several water bodies including the Dal Lake.

Srinagar recorded a low of minus 7.6 degrees Celsius which is around five degrees below normal for this time of the year, MET department officials said. The city had recorded a low of minus 8.4 degrees Celsius on Thursday, which was the lowest temperature in Srinagar since 1991.

Srinagar had recorded minus 8.3 degrees Celsius in 1995.The temperature has fallen to minus 11.3 degrees Celsius in 1991.

The lowest temperature ever recorded in Srinagar was minus 14.4 degrees Celsius in 1893.

The rest of the valley was also reeling under intense cold.

Pahalgam tourist resort, which also serves as a base camp for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 8.6 degrees Celsius – up from the previous night’s minus 11.1 degrees Celsius.

The minimum temperature in Gulmarg tourist resort settled at minus 5.5 degrees Celsius – up from minus 7.0 degrees Celsius the night earlier.

Qazigund – the gateway town to the valley – recorded a minimum of 8.3 degrees Celsius.

Kupwara in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 5.7 degrees Celsius, while Kokernag recorded minus 8.4 degrees Celsius.

The surface of Dal Lake has frozen due to the bone chilling cold, prompting authorities to issue an advisory against walking on the ice. SDRF and river police are conducting patrols around the frozen water bodies to ensure safety of the people. A dense fog also engulfed many parts of the city this morning.

The plunge in the minimum temperature has resulted in freezing of water supply pipes. A thick layer of ice has frozen over several roads in the city and elsewhere in the valley, making it difficult for motorists to drive.

Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day harshest winter 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 snowfall.

While ‘Chillai-Kalan’ – which began on December 21 — will end on January 31, 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).

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