Traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, was briefly suspended today as fresh snowfall and overnight rains triggered landslides blocking the highway.
The 300km-long highway was cleared of the debris at several places between Banihal and Ramban, much to the relief of commuters who had left Jammu for Srinagar this morning but got stranded at several places, officials of the traffic department said.
Landslides and shooting stones from hillocks, triggered by heavy rains, had blocked the highway at Panthyal, Rathanwas, Gangroo and Hingini forcing suspension of the traffic on the arterial road this morning, they said.
The Border Roads Organisation, which is maintaining the road, pressed its men and machines into service to clear the road after several hours of hard work, facilitating one-way traffic.
Only one-way traffic is allowed on the highway and as such only Srinagar-bound vehicles were cleared to ply on the road, the officials said.
Most parts of Jammu and Kashmir including Srinagar and Jammu cities were lashed by heavy rains, while some parts in the upper reaches experienced fresh snowfall since yesterday, resulting in considerable drop in the temperature.
The weather improved this morning after overnight rains but heavy cloud cover returned late afternoon, forcing people to once again look for the woolens which they had stowed away with the onset of spring.
The famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir, which received 44.8 MM of rains coupled with snow, was the coldest recorded place in the state with night temperature slipping below freezing point, a spokesman of the met office said.
He said the hill resort recorded a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius. Srinagar, which recorded 28.2 MM of rainfall till 0830 hours today, witnessed a drop of 3.4 degrees in the night temperature which settled at 7.8 degrees Celsius — two degrees below normal during this part of the season, the spokesman said. The summer capital recorded a high of 13.5 degrees Celsius yesterday which is five degrees below normal.
Winter capital Jammu was drenched by 26.4 mm of rains, resulting in a drop of over four notches in the night temperature. The city recorded a low of 17.0 degrees celsius against the previous nights 21.2 degrees celsius.
The spokesman said Kupwara town in north Kashmir recorded the highest rainfall of 49.7 mm during the past 12 hours.
The weatherman had predicted widespread rainfall till tomorrow followed by scattered rainfall on April 7 and isolated rainfall day after.
The weather is expected to improve on April 9, the spokesman said.