The first night of Chillai Kalan, the harshest 40-day winter period in Kashmir, recorded the coldest night of the season so far in parts of the valley on Tuesday, freezing more upper layers of the Dal lake.
The Meteorological department (MeT) said the mercury in Srinagar as well as the tourist resort of Pahalgam in south Kashmir dipped to the coldest of the season at minus 4.4 and 6.2 degrees Celsius, respectively.
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“The first day of Chillai Kalan was the coldest this winter and based on experience, I think the cold will continue. These 40 days will be tough. We will have to persevere,” said a Shikara owner in Dal Lake.
Most residents are using traditional ways like Kangris (fire pots) to keep warm as the electricity distribution corporation maintains a power cut schedule of 31 to 56 hours a week since November 15 amid the bitter cold.
“The corporation does not follow that schedule either. Electricity continues to play hide and seek. Our Kangrias are the best winterizers,” said a resident.
Apart from Srinagar or Pahalgam, the mercury also dipped below zero degrees overnight in all major weather stations in Kashmir.
The MeT weather update said the ski resort of Gulmarg recorded a low of -4.6 degrees Celsius against -4 degrees the previous night.
In Jammu division, Banihal was the coldest at -2 degrees. While Jammu district witnessed 6.3 degrees overnight, Katra recorded 6.8 degrees and Ladakh’s Leh and Kargil froze at -11.8°C and -12.1°C respectively.
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Today, according to MeT Director Sonam Lotus, the weather is mostly clear in most areas of J&K despite freezing cold weather. “Surface fog may develop in morning hours over Jammu plains during December 22-24 with a 60% chance,” Lotus said.
The MeT has predicted snowfall in the region from December 26 to 30. “Cloudy skies over scattered parts of Kashmir, higher parts of Jammu and light rain over Jammu plains (60% chance) are expected during the period,” Lotus said.
According to MeT, snowfall and sub-freezing temperatures may temporarily disrupt surface transport in Mughal road, Zojila, Karna, Sadna top, etc. between December 26 and 27. “Although there is no forecast of large snowstorms”, said the director of MeTe.
Winter in Kashmir occurs in three phases, starting from December 21 with the intense 40-day period (Chillai Kalan), then 20 less days (Chillai Khurd) and finally 10 days of mild cold (Chille Bache).