Intense cold wave conditions swept Kashmir on Wednesday as the mercury fell below the freezing point across the valley, officials said.
The cloud cover ahead of Tuesday’s snowfall had kept the night temperature around the freezing point for two consecutive nights in most parts of the valley but the respite ended as the mercury plunged to minus 11 degrees in Gulmarg in north Kashmir, the officials said.
They said Gulmarg tourist destination was the coldest recorded place in the valley.
Pahalgam, which serves as the base camp for annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 9 degrees Celsius — a drop of six notches in 24 hours.
The officials said the minimum temperature in Srinagar the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir was minus 2.2 degrees Celsius on Tuesday night.
Qazigund the gateway town to the valley recorded the minimum of minus 2.5 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in the north, registered a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius and Kokernag, in the south, minus 6.5 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’ — the 40-day harshest winter period when a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies including the famous Dal Lake here as well as the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall, the officials said.
While ‘Chillai-Kalan’ which began on December 21 — will end on January 31, the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir with a 20-day-long ‘Chillai-Khurd’ (small cold) and a 10-day-long ‘Chillai-Bachha’ (baby cold).