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Chillai Kalan begins

Srinagar, Dec 20:The 40-day-long period of harsh winter ‘Chillai Kalan’ starts in Kashmir on Friday amid an expected wave of biting cold sweeping the entire Kashmir Valley with further drop in the night temperatures.

The ‘Chillai Kalan’ sets each year on December 21 and ends on January 30.

Water bodies have already started freezing. Small fires are lit each morning around water taps to de-freeze them.

Met officials said there was further drop in night temperatures during the last 24 hours as Leh recorded minus 14.7, Srinagar minus 4.9, Pahalgam minus 6.8 and Gulmarg minus 5.4 degrees Celsius.

Jammu recorded 6.1, Katra 6.2, Batote 1.6, Bannihal minus 1.5 and Bhaderwah 0.3 as the minimum temperatures.

The night temperature dipped drastically in Leh district of Ladakh region as the mercury plunged nearly nine degrees Wednesday night, a Meteorological (MeT) Department official said.

The mercury fell from minus 6 degrees Celsius previous night to minus 14.7 degrees Celsius, he said.

In Srinagar — the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir — the night temperature dropped more than two degrees to settle at minus 4.9 degrees Celsius Wednesday night compared to minus 2.8 degrees Celsius the previous night, the official said.

The normal for this time of season in the city is minus 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The official said Qazigund — the gateway town to the valley in south Kashmir — recorded a low of minus 4.2 degrees Celsius, while nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius and Kupwara in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 5.5 degrees Celsius Wednesday night, he said.

The night temperature in Pahalgam, which serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath Yatra in south Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 6.8 degrees Celsius Wednesday night — up from the previous night’s minus 8.4 degrees Celsius.

The ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded the minimum temperature of minus 5.4 degrees Celsius last night — down from the previous night’s minus 4 degrees Celsius, the official said.

The normal for this time of the winter in the twin resorts is minus 4.4 degrees Celsius and minus 4.8 degrees Celsius respectively.

Cold wave conditions are expected to intensify as the valley enters the harshest 40-day winter period.