This winter, the picturesque landscapes of Kashmir, renowned for their snow-covered beauty, defy expectations.
Popular destinations like Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Tangmarg, Pahalgam, and Aru Valley remain surprisingly devoid of snowfall, creating a serene ambiance with minimal tourist activity.
Satellite images from the European Space Agency, analyzed by India Today’s Open-Source Intelligence team, reveal a concerning scenario.
From the northern reaches of Gulmarg, Sonmarg, and Tangmarg to the southern locales of Pahalgam and Aru Valley, these winter destinations await snowfall, even as Chillai Kalan, the traditionally harsh 40-day winter period, is past its midpoint.
Even in higher-altitude areas like Gurez Valley, where roads typically close in October, an unusual absence of snowfall persists.
The Bandipora-Gurez road, spanning 85 km, remains open as of January 9, providing access to regions that would normally be snow-covered.
Gulmarg, a renowned ski resort usually bustling with skiing enthusiasts on its pristine slopes, now stands desolate, stripped of its usual winter allure.
Situated at an elevation of about 8000 feet above sea level in the Bandipora district, Gurez Valley experiences near-zero snowfall, basking in sunshine despite the winter season.
The Kashmir Valley has encountered a 79% rainfall deficit throughout December, with little relief in sight, according to the weather department. The India Meteorological Department’s forecast for Gulmarg predicts no fresh snowfall and clear skies until January 15.
IMD scientist Soma Sen Roy attributes this anomaly to El Nino, a climatic phenomenon marked by elevated sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. El Nino significantly influences global weather patterns, including those governing precipitation in Kashmir.
Roy explains, “The Indian subcontinent lacks a robust western disturbance that typically brings moisture from the Arabian Sea and triggers snowfall in the mountains. El Nino is a crucial factor behind this phenomenon.” He predicts little change in the weather for Kashmir and North India shortly.
Weather experts note that El Nino’s impact has been evident since November of the previous year and is expected to persist into the coming month. In Southeast Asia, El Nino usually results in drier-than-average conditions, especially from December to February, accompanied by warmer temperatures.
The absence of the usual snow-covered slopes in Kashmir has left many visitors disappointed, particularly those who flocked to the region during the Christmas and New Year holiday season.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by Azadi Times staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)