Srinagar, December 21: Chillai-Kalan -- the 40-day harshest winter period in Kashmir - started on Thursday on a wet note as the higher reaches of the valley received fresh snowfall while the plains were lashed by rains.
Fresh snowfall was recorded at the twin resorts of Gulmarg and Pahalgam during the night as Chillai-Kalan marked its beginning in Kashmir, an official of the MET department here said.
He said while Gulmarg recorded 1.8 cm of snow, Pahalgam received nine cms of fresh snowfall last night. Many other areas in the higher reaches of the valley also received fresh snowfall, the official said.
He said Srinagar and other areas in the plains of the valley were lashed by rains and owing to cloud cover, the night temperature increased across Kashmir division, including Ladakh region. Srinagar recorded a low of 3.1 degrees Celsius last night, an increase from 2.3 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said.
He said the mercury in Qazigund in south Kashmir settled at a low of 2.6 degrees Celsius nearly two degrees up from 0.8 degree Celsius, while Kokernag town recorded a low of 1.9 degrees Celsius.
Kupwara town in north Kashmir registered a low of 2.2 degrees Celsius compared to 1.3 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said. He said Gulmarg recorded a low of minus 2.8 degrees Celsius last night compared to the previous night's minus 5.2 degrees Celsius.
The resort was the only place in the valley where the night temperature settled below the freezing point. The night temperature in Pahalgam rose from minus 0.1 degree Celsius to 0.3 degree Celsius, the official said.
Leh town of Ladakh region recorded a low of minus 9.2 degrees Celsius last night - over a degree up from previous night's minus 10.5 degrees Celsius, he said. The nearby Kargil town registered a low of minus 6.2 degrees Celsius, he said.
The MET office has forecast isolated downpour in the valley over the next 24 hours. Chillai-Kalan is the period when the chances of snowfall are most frequent and maximum and the temperature drops considerably.
It ends on January 31 next year, but the cold wave continues even after that in the valley. The 40-day period is followed by a 20-day long Chillai- Khurd (small cold) and a 10-day long Chillai-Bachha (baby cold).