Gulmarg Remains Deficit of Snow, Kashmir Valley Awaits Charm of Winter : Where has the Snow Gone?

Taha Yaseen
4 Min Read

The rain fall in Kashmir valley has witnessed a drop of 79 per cent throughout December and the valley remains snow deficit. The given picture explains the catastrophe of dried up Gulmarg in December against the valley covered in snow in February last year. The forecast also does not suggest any positive change in weather. Forecasts specify the persistence of dry weather.

The snow-covered slopes of Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Tangmarg in the North to Pahalgam and Aru Valley in the South, popular winter destinations of Kashmir region are still awaiting snowfall this season even as Chillai Kalan, the harshest 40-day period, has crossed halfway mark. The valley has reported 79 per cent deficiency in rainfall. According to meteorological experts, El Nino, the climatic phenomenon has led to reductions in snow and rainfall. El Nino is a natural phenomenon characterized by the warming of sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean which has far-reaching effects on global weather patterns, including Kashmir. Mukhtar Ahmad, Director of the Kashmir Meteorological Centre stated that the whole of December and the first week of January remained dry. The forecast also does not offer much hope either, with predictions indicating no major precipitation chances in the coming days. The noticeable absence of early snowfall this year has become a pattern over the last years. The training in-charge at Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering (IISM), Gulmarg, Tauseef Rathore, expresses that no ski training sessions are in the main bowl this year so far. The stakeholders are worried of dry spell since it would affect tourism with people cancelling their bookings. Assistant Director for tourism, Javaid ur Rehman, quotes that there is no snow anywhere in Gulmarg bowl. The slopes of the meadow appear barren. The situation is the same across the valley. The resorts in Europe are facing the same fate. Although the tourism is not yet affected, however, it is definitely going to have an impact in the coming days. There will be cancellations in case the dry spell persists.

El Nino Effect

The influence of El Nino is disrupting the customary climatic patterns since November and is expected to continue for the next month. The phenomenon causes the Pacific jet stream to shift southward and extend further east, leading to wetter conditions in the Southern US and drier, warmer conditions in the North. This shift has an impact on marine life off the Pacific coast also. In Southeast Asia, El Nino typically results in drier-than-average rainfall conditions, especially during December to February, followed by warmer temperatures.

In Kashmir, the implications of El Nino include prolonged dry spells, mild winters and less snowfall as are visible. Weather experts warn that the valley is likely to experience more frequent and extended droughts in future. It has a worse impact on local agriculture, with saffron farmers in Kashmir suffering due to the shifting weather patterns. The prolonged dry conditions have taken a heavy toll on the crops leading to vulnerability of traditional farming practices to climatic disruptions.  Kashmir is not experiencing the dry spell for the first time, it saw dry spells in 2022, in December-January of 2018, January of 2015 and in December of 2014. If the situation persists, the Khelo India Winter Games that are to be held from second of February could be impacted. The competition, which will take place at Kongdoori and the main bowl of Gulmarg, is set to feature 400 athletes representing various states, Union Territories and the Indian Army.

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