Srinagar: Mercury continued its free fall in Kashmir division as Leh in Ladakh region recorded the coldest night this winter with a minimum temperature of minus 16. 3 degrees Celsius. “Leh was the coldest recorded place in the state at minus 16.3 degrees Celsius, down from yesterday’s minus 13.2 degrees Celsius. This was the coldest temperature recorded this winter in the state,” an official of the MET department said here. Kargil also recorded extreme sub-zero temperature of minus 14.6 degrees Celsius, 5.6 degrees drop from yesterday’s low of minus 9.0 degrees Celsius, the official added.
Gulmarg in north Kashmir, the star attraction for the tourists visiting the valley during winter, remained the coldest recorded place in the valley with a low of minus 7.6 degrees Celsius. Pahalgam hill resort in south Kashmir, which serves as a base camp during the annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 6.7 degrees Celsius, a drop of over a degree from the previous night’s minus 5.4 degrees Celsius, the official said. The minimum temperature dropped by nearly a degree in Srinagar city as the mercury settled at minus 4.0 degrees Celsius against yesterday’s minus 3.3 degrees Celsius, he added. Kupwara town in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 3.7 degrees Celsius, while the minimum temperature dropped in southern Kokernag resort to minus 2.2 against yesterday’s minus 1.3 degrees Celsius.
Qazigund, the gateway town to Kashmir along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, recorded a minimum of minus 3.2 degrees Celsius against minus 2.4 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said. Kashmir Valley is currently under the grip of the 40-day harsh winter period known as ‘Chillai-Kalan’ which began on December 21 and during which the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum. The temperatures also drop during this period leading to shivering cold across the state. Though the Chillai-Kalan ends on January 31 next year, the cold wave usually continues even after that.
The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold). Meanwhile, tourists and locals have assembled at Gulmarg in large numbers to welcome New year even though the weathermen has forecast continued dry weather for the next four days. The New Year revelers might miss the fresh snowfall but can enjoy their visit in the snow-bound hill resort, 52 km from here, which had experienced snowfall on several occasions since November. Due to sub-zero temperature, the snow remained on the slopes and played an attraction to the tourists to head towards the hill resort.
The weatherman forecast snow-less New Year, saying the dry weather is expected to continue till January four.