Snow is testing the preparedness of the Omar Abdullah government ahead of the elections as rare snowfall in March has thrown life out of the gear in the Valley. Two houses and a school caved in due to heavy snowfall in Kupwara while water has accumulated in low lying areas of Srinagar.
Snow has caused major damage to the apple orchards in various places across the Valley. Electricity supply has also gone for a toss.
Kashmir remained cut off from the rest of the country as the 300 kilometer Srinagar-Jammu highway, the only lifeline for the Valley, remained closed. Flights too could not operate from the Srinagar international airport.
Also, on the basis of information from Snow and Avalanche Study Esatablshment, the J&K State Disaster Management Authority has issued a avalanche warning for hilly areas of Uri, Tangdhar, Ramban, Doda, Kishtwar, Poonch, Rajouri, Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam, Budgam, Ganderbal, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora and Kargil.
According to Meteorological Centre Kashmir, Srinagar has recorded 15 centimeters of snow till 8.30 am on Tuesday. Qazigund, the gateway of Kashmir, has recorded 12 centimeters while Kupwara, Banihal and Kokarnag have recorded 20, 20, and 12 centimeters of snow respectively till 8.30 am.
Ski resort of Gulmarg recorded the highest snowfall of 100 centimeters while health resort of Pahalgam witnessed 50 centimeters of snow till Tuesday morning. "It (snowfall) is not unusual in March keeping in view the topography, and geographical location (of the Valley). Such events do take place in North in March and April. But I admit such occasions are rare. We have had snowfall on Aprl 30, 2004. On March 14, 2012, too we had snowfall," Farooq Ahmad Khan, officiating director of Meteorological Centre Kashmir, told dna.
Maximum temperature has plummeted nine degrees below normal in Srinagar which has further aggravated the cold conditions in the Valley.
Jammu and Kashmir government has shut all the schools till Wednesday. Officials said the reopening of schools and other educational institutions will depend on the weather conditions. Weatherman has forecast improvement in the weather conditions from Thursday.