Pakistan’s mountains, including Murree, Neelum Valley, and Kaghan welcomed the first snowfall of the season early on January 29 with the Met Office forecasting more rain and snowfall during the week.
Murree received one inch of snow on Monday, a delayed occurrence this year as the usual snowfall begins in December. The Met Office attributed the rainy weather to a westerly wave affecting the western and upper regions of the country, expected to persist for a few days.
The Met Office cautioned that snowfall on January 30 and January 31 might impact transportation, advising tourists to exercise caution.
Deputy Commissioner Murree Agha Zaheer Abbas Shirazi said the district administration has made preparations to ensure safety during the snowfall for both tourists coming to enjoy snowfall and residents in Murree.
“Facilitation centers have been established at 13 places in Murree where officials of relevant departments will be guiding tourists,” the DC said.
“Traffic is flowing normally. All administrative bodies are active in the field. The administration has taken measures to remove snow from the roads,” he added.
Rain and snowfall break long dry spell in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Snowfall in hilly areas, including Naran and Kaghan Valley, and rain spells in plains on Sunday broke the two-month-long dry spell in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Snowfall commenced in Naran and the upper regions of Kaghan Valley around noon on Sunday, persisting intermittently throughout the day.
Heavy rainfall was experienced in the lower parts of Kaghan Valley, as well as in Mansehra, Torghar, Kolai-Palas, Upper Kohistan, and Lower Kohistan districts.
“Kaghan Valley remained almost dry during December and January. The fresh snowfall turned the weather to a freezing cold,” Assistant Director Kaghan Development Authority Asad Shahzad Khan said.
Khan said that after almost a decade the valley remained dry during December and received snowfall in late January. He said that their staffers were stationed at lower parts of the valley to cope with any untoward situation if raised from ongoing snowfall in the area.
Malam Jabba, Kalam, Miandam, Madyan, Bahrain, Utror, Gabral, Matiltan, Mahodand, Gabin Jabba, and other surrounding regions also received heavy snowfall attracting tourists.
Upper Swat Development Authority spokesperson Saeedur Rehman confirmed the influx of tourists to popular spots like Kalam, Mahodand, Malam Jabba, and Gabin Jabba and asked them to follow preventive measures to avoid any untoward situation.
“Tourists should take precautions before visiting these spots during snowfall,” said Rehman.
Residents, farmers, and agricultural experts emphasized the necessity of rain for wheat and other crops, highlighting the adverse impact of the dry spell on agriculture. The mountainous areas in the district received snowfall, contributing to a chilly weather.
Season’s first snowfall in Neelum Valley
Since late Saturday, Neelam Valley experienced its heaviest snowfall, leading to a drop in the daytime temperature. However, the night temperature reached an intolerable chill in the upper reaches of the liberated territory.
The snow-covered upper mountainous regions, including Neelam, forced residents to stay indoors to avoid the adverse effects of the sudden and chilly weather change on their daily lives.
Following the onset of rains and snowfall, the administration in Neelum Valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) has instructed all relevant departments to address emergencies promptly and efficiently.
“In the first place, people should avoid tourist excursions to the mountainous areas during rains and especially snowfalls and if they are determined to go ahead with their plans they should not forget to observe all possible precautions.”
The administration has urged both tourists and local residents to exercise caution and take necessary precautions to prevent any losses due to rains and snowfall.
In a statement issued on Monday, Raja Arif Mahmood, deputy commissioner and head of the district disaster management authority in Neelum, reported rain in the lower areas and snowfall in the upper regions of Neelum Valley.
He advised tourists to use 4×4 vehicles when traveling to the upper areas of Neelum and to maintain a slow speed due to the heightened risk of slippery conditions during the current season.
“Prefer to stay in the nearby hotels or rest houses in case of heavy rain or snow and rearrange your tour plan accordingly when the weather shows improvement,” he said.
Rain and snowfall in AJK
AJK received the first heaviest rainfall of the winter but of medium intensity in the plains coupled with snowfall in the upper areas, particularly in Taobat, Shounthar, Ghummot, Kel, Gurez, Surgan, and Jagran. Around two feet of snow was reported in these areas.
The region, having endured dry weather for the last three to four months, is anticipated to witness continued rainfall in the plains and snowfall in the mountainous areas over the next two to four days, according to the meteorological department.
The prolonged dry spell over the past few months had resulted in seasonal diseases such as allergies, flu, and fever in various parts of the valley. Additionally, the lack of rainfall in the region has significantly reduced water levels in rivers and dams, raising concerns.