Srinagar,: The season`s first snowfall here and in the major towns brought cheer across the Kashmir Valley, and residents greeted relatives and friends Sunday morning.
This is the first snowfall of the season in Srinagar city and other major towns of the valley like Badgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora, Kupwara, Sopore, Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam.
The valley was reeling under intense cold conditions due to dry weather for the last 20 days.
The intense cold and dry weather conditions brought with them a host of respiratory ailments, including bronchitis, fever and influenza.
Doctors here suggest the spurt in respiratory diseases is likely to abate because of the snowfall which will increase moisture content in the air and also raise the night temperatures.
"Nav Sheen Mubarak" (Greetings on first snowfall). This message jammed the SMS traffic of different cell phone services providers in the city.
Kashmir`s rivers and other perennial water reservoirs are dependent on a good winter snowfall which alone replenishes these water reservoirs of the valley.
Heavy snowfall has been reported from Zojila Pass connecting Kashmir with the cold desert Ladakh region of the state.
The strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway was closed for vehicular traffic Sunday morning because of snowfall in Banihal and Patnitop sectors of the over 300-km long road link between the valley and the rest of the country.
Sonam Lotus, director of the weather office here, had forecast that Srinagar would receive the season`s first snowfall during the night. He told IANS: "The present weather will continue till today (Sunday) afternoon during which period we are expecting more snowfall at many places in the Kashmir Valley."
"The weather will improve by today (Sunday) afternoon. We are expecting dry weather from tomorrow (Monday) onwards till Dec 27 when another feeble Western Disturbance (WD) is likely to cause more precipitation in Kashmir."
Western Disturbace is a storm system orginating in the Mediterranean Sea which brings sudden winter rain and snow to the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent, chiefly in the Himalayan region.
Lotus said the night temperatures improved throughout the valley because of the atmospheric green house effect.
"The night temperature was 0.3 degree Celsius in Srinagar today (Sunday). It was minus 6.6 in Gulmarg and minus 0.2 in Pahalgam.
"The night temperature was minus 6.0 degrees in Leh, while it was 8.4 degrees in Jammu city today (Sunday)."
"This is several notches above the corresponding night temperatures at these places during the last one week," Lotus said.