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White surprise: Gilgit blanketed by snow after 11 years

By Shabbir Mir

GILGIT: It was a happy day in Gilgit on Monday, as it was the first time in 11 years that snow covered the town, residents said.

“I can’t believe my eyes,” said a resident of Gilgit Abdul Haseeb, as he went out to enjoy the snowfall with his children.

In Gilgit, weather experts said, more than four inches of snowfall was recorded on the surface, while in the mountains it was more than 30 inches.

According to residents, the last snowfall that stayed on the surface was back in 2000. Normally, mountains in Gilgit-Baltistan receive snowfall every year, but it is rare that it stays. Before 2000, it was in 1995 when the region had its highest record for snowfall.

“It was in January 2000 when snow whitened the town,” said Samir Khan, a resident of Gilgit. “I remember this because it was the year when I got married,” he said, adding that since then they have been waiting for snowfall.

Twenty hours of power cuts, coupled with shortage of kerosene oil and firewood had created much difficulty in the region, which has immense potential for power generation.

The sporadic rain that started on Saturday continued to lash the region as reports reaching here said that Hunza, Mini Marg, Qamri, Burzil Pass, Tero, Yasin, Phandar, Khanbary and Tangir valleys received snowfall.

In Ghizer valley, the highest precipitation was recorded in Ghakuch, the headquarter of the valley, said reports reaching here in the evening.

Temperature remained below freezing point in Gilgit and adjacent areas.

According to the meteorological department, rain will continue to lash the region in the coming days. Due to the harsh weather, flights to Gilgit and Skardu were cancelled for the third consecutive day. Hundreds of passengers were stranded in Islamabad and Gilgit as Karakoram Highway was blocked by the landslides.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2011.


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