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Postcards from Kashmir: The Valley gets embellished with white blanket after heaviest snowfall recorded in 25 years
The Kashmir Valley has turned into a picture postcard with three spells of heavy snowfall of more than 16.2 cm in January alone, the heaviest in 25 years.

This year, almost 23 cm of snowfall has been recorded so far, as per the met department, and predictions say that more is expected in the coming days. The last time the Valley saw such heavy snowfall was way back in 1992.

Although it had snowed heavily in February 2006 too, but this year the snowfall has been unprecedented and coincided with `chillai kalan' – the term used for the harshest period of winter in Kashmir between December 21 to January 30.

`Chillai kalan', which sees midnight temperatures plummeting between -10 and -20 degree Celsius, is considered by Kashmiris as sacred, as it replenishes the Himalayan snow cover, recharges the water table, ensuring sufficient water for rabi crops during summers and also attracts tourists to places like Gulmarg.

Weather officials recorded seven feet of snow at Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Pahalgam, with 1 to 1.5 feet of snow accumulating on the city streets. As per MeT director Sonam Lotus, the heavy snowfall was brought by a western disturbance, an extra-tropical, non-monsoon precipitation pattern driven by westerly winds.

Landslides were triggered in areas like Seeri, Karol, Mehar, Battery Chashma and Digdol owing to continuous and heavy snowfall, also shutting down the 300 km Srinagar-Jammu highway for several days. Fifteen Army soldiers were killed in north Kashmir in avalanches.

Despite such heavy snow, tourists have kept away due to violence that had followed the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani in July, 2016. Most popular tourist resorts are reportedly lying vacant.

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