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SRINAGAR: Heavy snowfall in Kashmir has attracted as many as 18,500 tourists since January 1, as per official estimates. Kashmir Valley on Friday received heavy to medium snowfall with Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Sonmarg under nearly 4ft snow. Srinagar also received fresh snowfall.
The mercury has been plummeting to -5˚C during nights in Gulmarg, where around 3,000 tourists have arrived to enjoy the snow and ski. Pahalgam is also witnessing heavy tourist footfall, with around 1,700 visitors. All hotels in both places are completely booked for more than a month, as per official figures.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a red alert on Friday for heavy-very heavy precipitation in J&K. The weather system may affect surface and air transportation, mainly on Saturday, said an IMD official, adding: “It may cause avalanche/landslide in vulnerable spots.”
The situation would improve gradually from January 9 (Sunday) morning. The MeT office has warned people against venturing into avalanche-prone areas and urged them to follow traffic advisory besides maintaining proper ventilation in their rooms.
On Friday, Ladakh’s Leh recorded 1.5°C against Thursday night’s -7.6°C. Kargil recorded a minimum temperature of -9.8°C while Drass recorded -12.4°C, the official added. Srinagar got 3.1mm rainfall in the past 24 hours till Friday 8.30am, said the IMD official. It recorded a day temperature of 2.6°C against Thursday night’s 0.3°C.
Gulmarg recorded a low of -5.5°C against Thursday night’s -3.4°C. South Kashmir’s famous skiing destination Pahalgam, which received 0.4cm of fresh snowfall, recorded a low of -0.4°C on Friday against -0.8°C the previous night.
Qazigund received 4.6mm of rain in the last 24 hours while the gateway town of Kashmir recorded a low of 0.4°C, the same as witnessed on the previous night, he said. North Kashmir’s Kupwara town recorded a minimum of 0.8°C against 0°C on Thursday night. Jammu, with 4.6mm of rain, recorded a low of 11.1°C, up eight notches from Thursday night.
Since December 21, 2021, Kashmir has been reeling under the 40-day-long harshest period of winter, locally known as “Chillai Kalan”. The period is followed by a 20-day-long “Chillai Khurd” and a 10-day-long “Chillai Bachha”.

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