The fringes of the famous Dal Lake froze on Sunday as the mercury continued its freefall in Srinagar which experienced the coldest night of the season at minus 6.2 degrees Celsius, the MET Office said. The minimum temperature across the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh Union Territory stayed several degrees below the freezing point, intensifying the cold wave in some areas in the region, an official of the Meteorological Department said.
Jammu region continued to reel under intense cold with the mercury staying several degrees below the season's average, an official said.
Snow-bound Banihal town along Jammu-Srinagar national highway was the coldest recorded place in the region with a low of minus 2.2 degrees Celsius, followed by Bhaderwah in Doda district at minus 0.8 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Jammu recorded a minimum of 5.7 degrees Celsius, 1.7 notches below normal during this part of the season, against the previous night's 6.2 degrees Celsius.
Katra, the base camp for the pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi Shrine in Reasi district, recorded a minimum of 3.3 degrees Celsius, the official said, adding the town recorded the coldest night of the season on Friday when the mercury plummeted to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Jammu region is under the grip of intense cold over the past one week with Sun remaining hidden behind the clouds.
The official said Srinagar city recorded the low of minus 6.2 degrees Celsius last night, down from minus 5.8 degree Celsius the previous night.
It was the coldest night of the season so far in the city, leading to freezing of the fringes of the Dal Lake and other water bodies as well as water supply lines at several places.
The night temperature in the city, which has been witnessing clear skies and some sunshine during the day, is over four degrees below the normal for this part of the season, the official added.
The ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded the low of minus 6.6 degrees Celsius last night, up from the previous night's minus 7.5 degrees Celsius, he said.
The night temperature at Pahalgam resort, which also serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 10.4 degrees Celsius as against minus 11.2 degrees Celsius on Saturday, he said.
Pahalgam, in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, was the coldest recorded place in the valley, he added.
The official said Qazigund, the gateway town to the valley, in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 9.5 degrees Celsius, up from minus 10.8 degrees Celsius on Saturday.
Kokernag town, also in south, recorded a low of minus 7.5 degrees Celsius, while Kupwara, in north, registered the minimum of minus 6.1 degrees Celsius, the official said.
He said Leh town, in the Ladakh Union territory, recorded a low of minus 19 degrees Celsius – compared to the previous night's minus 19.1 degrees.
The nearby Drass town froze at a low of minus 28.7 degrees Celsius.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of 'Chillai Kalan', the 40-day harshest period of winter when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
'Chillai Kalan' began on December 21 and ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long 'Chillai Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day long 'Chillai Bachha' (baby cold).
The MET Office has forecast rains and snowfall in Kashmir on the New Year's eve which is likely to bring respite from the cold wave conditions in the valley.
"There is possibility of light rains or snowfall across Kashmir for a few days from December 31," the official said.
He said while there is forecast of scattered rains or snowfall on December 31 and January 1, there is possibility of fairly-widespread rainfall or snow on January 2 which may continue till January 3.
"The spell of wet weather is likely to bring respite to the valley which has been grappling with the cold wave conditions," he added.