STATE TIMES NEWS Jammu: Severe cold wave conditions gripped Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh after the recent snowfall which forced the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway for the fourth successive day on Sunday, officials said. The night temperature in most parts of the two Union Territories saw a dip, with Jammu city recording its coldest night of the season at 5.8 degrees Celsius — 3.4 notches below the normal, a Meteorological Department official said. However, Drass in Ladakh was the coldest recorded place after the minimum temperature plummeted to minus 19.5 degrees Celsius, followed by nearby Leh at minus 13.5 degrees Celsius, he said, adding that Srinagar recorded a low of 0.5 degrees Celsius. The 270-km Jammu-Srinagar national highway, which was closed on Thursday evening following heavy snowfall near the Jawahar Tunnel and adjoining areas, remained closed for the fourth consecutive day, a Traffic Department official said, adding that efforts are on to reopen the highway.
“The road was cleared of snow but landslides at several places between Panthiyal and Ramsu, including Monkey Morh, Moumpassi and Battery Cheshma delayed its reopening. The men and machines are on the job and we are hopeful of early restoration of the highway,” the official said.
He said the closure of the highway left thousands of commuters stranded at various places and priority would be given to them once the road is cleared.
Meteorological department Director Sonum Lotus said barring light snowfall and rain at isolated places, no major precipitation occurred in the three regions — Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, overnight.
“Both Union Territories are under severe cold wave conditions,” he said, adding the weather is most likely to remain mainly cold and dry till December 20 when another wet spell is expected under the influence of a Western Disturbance.
The Met official said the famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir was the coldest recorded place in the Valley with a low of minus 11.3 degrees Celsius, while Pahalgam hill resort in south Kashmir recorded a minimum of minus 5.4 degrees Celsius. Both the hill resorts experienced heavy snowfall.
The sun came out early in the winter capital Jammu after remaining hidden over the past several days, providing relief to the people from the chilly conditions.
The snow-bound Banihal in Ramban district was the coldest recorded place in Jammu region with a low of minus 4.8 degrees Celsius, followed by nearby Batote at minus 2.6 degrees Celsius and Bhadarwah in Doda district at minus 0.5 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi Shrine, recorded a minimum of 5.3 degrees Celsius.
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