Fresh spell of rain, snowfall in Himachal

Shimla: The weather office on Sunday forecast a fresh spell of rain and snowfall to lash Himachal Pradesh from February 26-27.

Himachal Pradesh has been witnessing regular spells of snowfall with bone-chilling conditions this winter with weather experts saying that this was a normal phenomenon.

“This winter season (November to February) we are seeing frequent and intense western disturbances in the Himalayan region in comparison to the previous winter (2017-18),” India Meteorological Department Scientist Manish Rai told IANS.

Western disturbance is a meteorological term for a storm system emanating from the Mediterranean Sea which causes rain or snowfall in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent.

Rai said after the February 26-27 snow and rain spell, another was forecast for March 1-2.

In the previous winter, a drought-like situation prevailed in Himachal Pradesh, badly impacting the state’s Rs 7,000-crore fruit economy, mainly apples, and also tourism as snow draws more travellers.

Apple orchards usually need low chill in December and January.

Rai, said this winter the state recorded 246.5 mm precipitation, both rain and snow, till February 21 and this was 45 per cent higher than the normal 169.8 mm.

In February alone, there was 64 per cent higher precipitation than the normal 98 mm.

Shimla, which saw a low of 5.5 degrees Celsius on Sunday, had received snow last week, like its neigbouring hill destinations Kufri, Mashobra and Narkanda.

Manali in Kullu district, about 250 km from here, is still wrapped under a blanket of snow. It saw the night temperature at 2.6 degrees Celsius.

Keylong in Lahaul and Spiti district was the coldest place in the state at minus 7.2 degrees Celsius, while it was minus 2.4 degrees in snow-marooned Kalpa in Kinnaur district.

The plentiful snowfall has also cheered up the ski and snowboard industry concentrated mainly in the picturesque Manali, which is dependent upon snow cover for both recreational and elite competition levels.

In the past, the Solang ski slopes, 13 km from Manali, had seen insignificant snowfall many times and locals involved in skiing were planning to move towards the higher hills to attract adventure lovers.

Officials say 2008-09 was pretty bad for skiing as the slopes near Manali witnessed scanty and erratic snowfall throughout the winter.