Srinagar: The Kashmir Valley is witnessing intense cold with Chillai Kalan, the 40-day period of extreme cold, having commenced earlier this week.
Night temperatures remained several notches below the freezing point on Saturday, as extreme cold tightened its grip on the valley.
Nowhere in the valley and the cold desert Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir did the night temperature rise above the freezing point on Saturday, a meteorological department official told IANS.
Residents felt the severity of the winter cold more early Saturday when they had to suddenly leave their homes in panic as a 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit Kashmir at 12.44 a.m.
"The minimum temperature was minus 3.2 in Srinagar today. It was minus 4.0 in Qazigund town, minus 4.4 in Pahalgam, minus 5.7 in Gulmarg and minus 3.0 in Kupwara town of the valley," the official said.
He said the minimum temperatures were minus 10.1 and minus 9.0 respectively in Leh and Kargil towns of Ladakh region.
"In the Jammu region the minimum temperature was 5.0 in Jammu city, 6.5 in Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine base camp town of Katra, 3.1 in Batote, 1.5 in Banni hal and zero degrees Celsius in Bhaderwah town.
On Saturday isolated rain or snow is expected in Jammu and Kashmir during the next 24 hours, adding that maximum temperatures in Srinagar and Jammu cities are likely to hover around 4 and 16 degrees respectively, the official said.
Meanwhile, most water bodies including lakes, rivers and streams have already started to freeze as the Chillai Kalan tightens its grip over the valley.
Extremely slippery road conditions in the morning presented insurmountable problems to motorists and commuters who preferred to remain indoors to avoid accidents.
Chillai kalan will end on January 31.