The mental image of Kashmir as a snow-covered paradise nestled amidst majestic mountains is a dreamlike depiction for many. However, the reality this winter season paints a starkly different picture.
Satellite images meticulously analyzed by India Today’s Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) team from the European Space Agency (ESA) have unveiled an unexpected scenario. Typically renowned winter destinations like Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Tangmarg in the North, and Pahalgam and Aru Valley in the South are astonishingly bereft of the customary snowy landscapes that usually attract tourists.
These images, a testament to the delayed winter, present a concerning scenario, especially during Chillai Kalan, a forty-day period known for its harsh weather conditions. Even areas that traditionally close their access due to heavy snowfall by October, like the Gurez Valley, are experiencing minimal snowfall this season. Surprisingly, the Bandipora-Gurez road, covering 85 kilometers, remains open as of January 9.
Gulmarg, renowned for its vibrant ski resort ambiance, currently appears desolate and devoid of its usual winter allure.
However, the situation offers no respite. The Kashmir Valley has encountered an unprecedented 79% rainfall deficit in December. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts a continued dry spell until January 15, indicating no likelihood of fresh snowfall in the near future.
This meteorological anomaly has been attributed to the El Nino phenomenon by IMD scientist Soma Sen Roy. El Nino, characterized by elevated sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, holds considerable sway over global weather patterns, including the precipitation in Kashmir. Roy highlighted the absence of a robust western disturbance that typically brings moisture from the Arabian Sea, weakening as it nears the Indian subcontinent, a significant outcome of El Nino’s influence.
Forecasts indicate a persistent impact of El Nino in the coming months, affecting the weather in Kashmir and North India. Typically, El Nino leads to drier conditions and warmer temperatures in Southeast Asia during December to February.
This unanticipated lack of snow has left many visitors disappointed, especially those who flocked to Kashmir for the Christmas and New Year holiday season. Babita Raina, a Srinagar resident, expressed her dismay during a recent visit to Gulmarg, emphasizing how the absence of snowfall had dampened the usually enchanting experience.
The usual lively scene of skiers adorning the meadows of Gulmarg in January has been replaced by an unsettling silence, further underscoring the unusual circumstances prevalent in Kashmir this winter.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Kashmir Monitor staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)