New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI) Several high-altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh were wrapped in thick white sheets of snow, with many tourist destinations like Kufri, Manali and Auli receiving the season’s first snowfall, while temperatures dipped in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab following rains.
Heavy snowfall and landslides in the Union Territory forced closure of the important Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Ramban and authorities in Kashmir have issued an avalanche warning for four districts -- Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla and Ganderbal.
The Himalayan shrines of Kedarnath and Yamunotri in Uttarakhand closed for the winters amid heavy snowfall in the upper reaches of the state.
Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 25.8 degrees Celsius, the lowest this season so far, following rains under the influence of a Western Disturbance.
However, the minimum temperature rose to 16 degrees Celsius, the highest since October 22, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
IMD officials attributed the drop in the maximum temperature and the increase in the minimum temperature to the presence of clouds in the region under the influence of the Western Disturbance.
Until now, Delhi had been witnessing a trend of low minimum temperatures this month due to the absence of cloud cover.
Clouds trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation and radiate it back downward, warming the ground.
The minimum temperature is likely to drop below the 10 degrees Celsius mark by Friday, according to the IMD.
The department said that “as the Western Disturbance withdraws from the region, the wind direction will again change to Northwesterly”.
“Cold winds from hilly regions, which have received a fresh bout of snowfall, will start blowing towards the national capital,” an IMD official said.
Many places in Haryana and Punjab received rains, causing a dip in the mercury, the meteorological (MeT) department said, adding that a few places, including Chandigarh, received showers on Monday morning as well.
Places that received rains on Sunday included Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Jalandhar, Patiala, Ludhiana, Panchkula, Sonipat, Gurgaon, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Jind and Hisar. Isolated places in Haryana were also lashed by hailstorms.
The minimum temperature in the two states dropped by a few notches after the rains, department officials said.
Upper Himalayan areas, including Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Auli and Harsil, of Uttarakhand received the season's first heavy snowfall, intensifying cold conditions across the state.
Snowfall began on Sunday night and continued till Monday morning, according to officials.
Heavy snowfall delayed the departure of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and his Uttarakhand counterpart Trivendra Singh Rawat for Badrinath after they had offered prayers at Kedarnath temple and attended a ceremony for the closure of its portals for winter. Himachal Pradesh's tourist hotspots Kufri and Manali received the first snowfall of the season, the MeT department said. Kufri received 7 cm snowfall whereas Manali in Kullu district received 2 cm in the last 24 hours, Shimla MeT Centre Director Manmohan Singh said, adding that Sangla recoded 25 cm snowfall, Gondla 20 cm, Khadrala 18 cm, Kalpa 5.6 cm and Keylong 4 cm.
Besides, several other areas of the state including its capital Shimla experienced 21.6 mm rainfall. The tribal district of Lahaul and Spiti's administrative centre Keylong was recorded as the coldest place in the state at minus 3 degrees Celsius, the weatherman said.
While Kalpa recorded a low of minus 0.8 degrees Celsius, Kufri's minimum temperature settled at zero degree Celsius. Dalhousie and Shimla recorded a low of 0.6 and 3.6 degrees Celsius respectively, Singh added.
In Jammu and Kashmir, security forces have rescued 10 people, including two women and a child, after they were trapped in heavy snowfall at the high-altitude Sinthan pass, a defence spokesperson said.
The rescue operation was carried out late Sunday night after information was received about a group of civilians stranded at Sinthan pass that connects Kishtwar district of Jammu region with Kashmir's Anantnag, he said.
The rescue team, comprising army and police personnel, walked for five hours along the National Highway 244 in zero visibility conditions during the night and brought the stranded people to Sinthan ground where they were provided with food and shelter, the spokesperson said. Heavy snowfall in the Union Territory also affected traffic on major roads.
The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, was closed for traffic following snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel and landslides from the hillocks at several places in Ramban district, officials said.
The alternate link between the valley and rest of the country, Mughal Road, also remained closed for the third day as high-altitude areas experienced snowfall, while plains of Jammu and other parts were lashed by rains since Sunday afternoon, the officials said.
Light rain, which was triggered by the Western Disturbance, was recorded in a few areas of eastern Rajasthan since Sunday and Bari in Dholpur and Mandrayal in Karauli both received 4 cm rainfall. Sarmathura, Dholpur, Sapotra (Karauli) recorded 3 cm while a few other places received below 3 cm rains, according to the MeT departmen.
The temperature last night was recorded at 12 degrees Celsius in Jaisalmer and 19.2 degrees Celsius in Kota. PTI TEAM ANB ANB