New Delhi, Nov 16 (PTI)

Heavy snowfall and landslides in the Union Territory forced closure of the important Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Ramban and authorities in Kashmir have issued an avalanche warning for four districts — Kupwara, Bandipora, Baramulla and Ganderbal.

While a medium danger avalanche warning has been issued for the higher reaches of Kupwara and Bandipora districts, a low danger avalanche warning has been issued for the higher reaches of Ganderbal and Baramulla districts, they said.

Several high-altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh were wrapped in thick white sheets of snow, with many tourist destinations like Kufri, Manali and Auli receiving the season’s first snowfall, while temperatures dipped in Delhi, Haryana and Punjab following rains.

The Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, was closed for traffic following snowfall around Jawahar Tunnel and landslides from the hillocks at several places in Ramban district, officials said. The alternate link between the valley and rest of the country, Mughal Road, also remained closed for the third day as high-altitude areas experienced snowfall.

Upper Himalayan areas, including Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Auli and Harsil, of Uttarakhand received the season’s first heavy snowfall, intensifying cold conditions across the state. Snowfall began on Sunday night and continued till Monday morning, according to officials. The shrines of Kedarnath and Yamunotri in Uttarakhand closed for the winters amid the heavy snowfall.

In Jammu and Kashmir, security forces have rescued 10 people, including two women and a child, after they were trapped in heavy snowfall at the high-altitude Sinthan pass. The rescue operation was carried out late Sunday night after information was received about a group of stranded civilians. The rescue team, comprising army and police personnel, walked for five hours along the National Highway 244 in zero visibility conditions during the night and brought the stranded people to Sinthan ground where they were provided with food and shelter.

Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 25.8 degrees Celsius, the lowest this season so far, following rains under the influence of a Western Disturbance. However, the minimum temperature rose to 16 degrees Celsius, the highest since October 22, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). IMD officials attributed the drop in the maximum temperature and the increase in the minimum temperature to the presence of clouds in the region under the influence of the Western Disturbance. Until now, Delhi had been witnessing a trend of low minimum temperatures this month due to the absence of cloud cover. Clouds trap some of the outgoing infrared radiation and radiate it back downward, warming the ground.

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