Snowfall, rain lash North India, bring chill back
New Delhi: Snowfall and rain lashed North India for a second day Tuesday, triggering landslides and cutting off parts of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, and waterlogging roads in Delhi.
Delhi received the heaviest rainfall of the winter season since Monday, breaking a six-year-old record, at 46 mm. Delhi's Ridge at 50 mm, Delhi University northern campus at 51 mm and Lodhi Road at 53.6 mm were the wettest spots in the capital, and gave commuters a harrowing time with waterlogged key roads.
The minimum temperature in the capital was recorded at 13.5 degrees Celsius. The maximum was 19.3 degrees Celsius.
In Himachal Pradesh, the situation was worse as piles of snow blocked vehicular movements along road to towns in Shimla, Kullu and Kinnaur districts. The heavy snowfall and rain will continue till Wednesday, the Met Office said.
Traffic beyond Kufri, a hill station near Shimla, was suspended after a stretch of Hindustan-Tibet Road was closed due to heavy snow. Connectivity on Kullu-Manali national highway snapped five km ahead of Manali.
Kalpa in Kinnaur experienced 54.7 cm of snowfall and mercury dipped to minus 3.4 degrees Celsius while the minimum temperature in Manali was 1.2 degrees below the freezing point.
Further north, the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway No 1A, the lifeline to the Kashmir Valley, remained closed for the second consecutive day due to overnight snowfall and landslides. Hundreds of load carriers and passenger vehicles were stranded.
A Border Roads Organisation official said the piled up snow blocked the road in the Banihal sector while landslides hit the road in Panthal, Seri and Kela Morh areas.
He said if weather permitted, stranded vehicles would be allowed to move on from Jammu to Srinagar.
There were about 200 people stranded at Jammu bus stand due to closure of the highway.
Almost all mountainous parts of the Jammu region too remained cut off. The 100-km stretch between Patnitop and Banihal had over a dozen road blockades caused by snow, landslides and shooting stones.
Police said they have given food and shelter to stranded passengers who could be reached while police units were trying to access those who are cut off. Even telecom links and electricity supply were disrupted.
The number of pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi hill shrine also fell drastically to about 5,000, from 8,500 Monday, a Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board official said.
The snowfall in Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh brought on heavy rains and strong winds in the plains of Haryana and Punjab.
In Haryana, Narnaul and Karnal received 30 and 23.8 mm of rain, respectively. Rain was also reported in Ambala and Hisar.
In Punjab, Patiala received 13.6 mm of rain. Amritsar and Ludhiana also had showers.
Chandigarh received 11.5 mm of rain till Tuesday morning. The rain was accompanied by high velocity winds.
Incessant rain also brought back winter chill in Uttar Pradesh. The weather department forecast more showers.
The rainy weather forced Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party president Rajnath Singh to postpone their trips to the state, party leaders said.
The rains, with lightning, thunder and icy winds, began late Monday and continued Tuesday, pulling down mercury.
The minimum temperature in Lucknow was 4.7 degrees Celsius -- six notches below normal.
In Kanpur, it was 5.3 degrees Celsius, while Allahabad recorded 5.1 degrees.
The rains were caused by a westerly disturbance - a storm system emanating from the Mediterranean and moving onto the Himalayas in Afghanistan and Pakistan - and the situation was likely to remain more or less similar for the next few days, said a Met official.