STATE TIMES NEWSSrinagar: Flight operations at the Srinagar airport remained suspended for the fourth straight day on Tuesday as all flights to and fro the Kashmir Valley were cancelled due to poor visibility caused by heavy fog, officials said. “All flights at the Srinagar airport were cancelled on Tuesday and no flight operations took place for the fourth straight day,” an official of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) said. He said the visibility at the airport was very poor due to heavy fog and the conditions were not suitable for flight operations. “The visibility at the airport has been hovering around 100 to 500 metres only while as the required visibility is 1000 to 1200 metres. So, all flights for the day were cancelled,” the official said. The flight operations have been severely affected at the airport for the past five days. On Friday, several flights were cancelled, while no flight operations took place on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. A thick layer of fog engulfed most parts of the valley on Tuesday affecting the visibility and causing problems to the people, especially the motorists. Despite a marginal increase in the night temperature due to overcast conditions, the mercury continued to stay below sub-zero in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir, an official of the MeT department said. However, the foggy conditions which had forced the cancellation of all flights to and fro Srinagar airport over the past three days are likely to ease from Wednesday onwards as the twin Union territories are expected to experience fresh spell of snow and rain in the next couple of days, the official said.
Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world, continued to be the coldest recorded place in the region with a low of minus 19.0 degrees Celsius against the previous night’s minus 21.4 degrees Celsius, he said.
Leh, in Ladakh, recorded a minimum of minus 13.6, making an improvement of 1.6 notches, the official said.
The minimum temperature also slightly improved in Srinagar, which was reeling under dense fog and cold wave conditions over the past week, to settle at minus 2.4 degrees Celsius — 1.8 degrees below normal during this part of the season, he said.
Srinagar had recorded the coldest night of the season on Sunday with a low of minus four degrees Celsius, resulting in the freezing of water bodies, including the fringes of the famous Dal Lake.
“Most plains in Kashmir, including Srinagar, are currently engulfed by dense fog which is likely to persist till late afternoon. However, the relief is expected from the foggy conditions from Wednesday onwards as rain and snow is expected between December 11 and 13 in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh,” the official said.
The snowfall is expected at most places in Kashmir, higher reaches of Jammu and Zojilla and Drass in Kargil district of Ladakh, he said.
The winter capital Jammu recorded a night temperature of 8.7 degrees Celsius which was 1.3 degrees below the season’s average, the official said. On Monday, the maximum temperature in the city had fallen to 16.7 degrees Celsius — 5.8 degrees below normal.
The famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir was the coldest recorded place in the valley with a low of minus 4.0 degrees Celsius while it was minus 3.3 in Pahalgam hill resort in south Kashmir, the official said.
Katra, which serves as the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi Shrine in Reasi district of Jammu region, recorded a low of 8.4 degrees Celsius, the official said, adding Bhadarwah township of Doda district was, however, the coldest recorded place in the region with a minimum of 2.0 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, the Kashmir administration has put in place 154 snow clearance machines (SCMs) across the valley and issued a slew of directions to the officials concerned in light of a heavy snowfall warning, officials said.
According to the weather advisory issued by the Meteorological Department, a western disturbance is most likely to affect Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh from Tuesday (December 10) to Saturday (December 14), causing widespread and heavy snowfall which may lead to disruption in surface and air transport and dip in temperature.
In view of the inclement weather, the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan chaired a high-level meeting to review arrangements made by the various departments on Monday, officials said.
As many 154 SCMs have already been distributed among 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley, they said.
The Mechanical Engineering Department (MED) has geared up their men and machinery and positioned adequate number of SCMs at various locations, they said.
The divisional commissioner sought detailed feedback from deputy commissioners and officials of departments concerned regarding stock position of essentials including foodgrains, LPG, petrol and kerosene.
The meeting also discussed the present status of National Highway, Mughal Road and Srinagar-Leh road, besides helicopter services and winter dumping of essentials in far-flung areas, they said.
The authorities were asked to ensure the timely deployment of men and machines on the airport and the national highway for snow clearance, the officials said.
The departments concerned were asked to send location-wise details of snow clearance machines immediately to the respective deputy commissioners, they said.
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