A chilling cold wave has tightened its grip on Kashmir, plunging temperatures well below freezing across the region. Srinagar witnessed a bone-chilling low of minus 4.8 degrees Celsius, causing a thin layer of ice to encase the surface of the iconic Dal Lake, officials said.
Residents residing in houseboats navigated the challenge of breaking through the ice to reach the banks.
The extreme cold has taken its toll on the region, freezing water supply pipes in multiple areas, disrupting daily life. Pahalgam, a crucial base camp for the annual Amarnath Yatra, recorded a low of minus 6.2 degrees Celsius, while Gulmarg’s famed skiing resort registered a freezing minus 4 degrees Celsius.
Other areas such as Qazigund, Kokernag, and Kupwara also experienced plunging temperatures, with the mercury dropping well below zero.
Adding to the woes, Kashmir has faced a prolonged dry spell with a staggering 79% rainfall deficit in December. The absence of snowfall in most parts, both in the plains and upper reaches, exacerbates the situation. Clear skies have contributed to further dips in temperatures, intensifying the ongoing ‘Chilla-i-Kalan,’ the 40-day harshest winter period, causing water bodies, including the Dal Lake, and supply lines to freeze.
Forecasters predict no respite for the next six days, painting a harsh picture for residents as they brace for an even more frigid start to 2024.