Shimla | Shimla residents woke up to a fascinating view on Friday with the entire town donning a mantle of snow but the sleet on road disrupted vehicular traffic and office-goers had a hard time commuting.
As many as 720 roads, including four national highways, in Himachal Pradesh are blocked following snow while 2,243 transformers are disrupted. The maximum of 250 roads are closed in Shimla district, followed by 163 in Chamba, 139 in Lahaul and Spiti, 67 in Kullu, 54 in Mandi and 46 in Kinnaur district, according to the data shared by the state emergency operation centre.
The vehicular traffic to upper Shimla areas was halted at several places due to closure of roads leading to Rohru, Chopal, Narkanda, Khadrala and other places.
Snowfall and widespread rain caused sharp fall in minimum temperatures and residents in high altitude tribal areas shivered under piercing cold wave conditions with the mercury staying 14-18 degrees Celsius below the freezing point.
Machinery from low areas was shifted to snow-bound areas in a proactive move and the roads were cleared by sprinkling calcium chloride, Public Works Department Minister Vikramaditya Singh told reporters on Friday.
Calcium chloride, a crystalline white colour ionic salt, made up of calcium and chlorine melts snow with immediate contact. The process is economical as the cost per kilometer is Rs 500 on a single lane.
Snowfall is important for drinking and irrigation schemes, agriculturists and horticulturists and tourism but best efforts would be put in to ensure that the roads are cleared, Singh said, adding that Rs 72 crore was released for the repair of roads on Thursday.
In the past 24 hours till 8 am, Triund received 75 cm of fresh snow while Narkanda and Shikari Devi were wrapped under 60-cm thick blanket of snow, followed by 45 cm each in Kamrunag and Chansel, 42.6cm in Shilaroo, 35 cm in Kothi and Khadrala, 30 cm each in Pangi, Jot, Bara Bhangal, Bir-Billing,Kapla, Parashar lake,Kufri and Khara-Patthar and Kufri, the weather bulletin showed.
The state capital Shimla recorded 5-cm deep snowfall and a minimum temperature of minus 0.6 degrees Celsius, it added.
According to weather data, Kusumseri recorded a low of minus 13.8 degrees Celsius, followed by minus 7.0 degrees Celsius in Kalpa, minus 6.1 degrees Celsius each in Narkanda and Manali, minus 5.4 degrees Celsius in Sumdo, and minus 3.1 degree Celsius in Dalhousie.
Widespread rain lashed mid and lower hills and Nagrota Suriyan was wettest in the state with 57 mm rainfall, followed by 45 mm in Slapper, 38 mm each in Kahu and Ghaghas, 35 mm in Jogindernagar and 32 mm in Berthin.
The local meteorological station has issued yellow warning for thunderstorm and lightning at isolated places on February 3 and 4 under the influence of a fresh western disturbance and predicted a wet spell in the state till February 6