All news is bad news today :
Srinagar-Leh road has received a lot of rain in lower elevations , turning in to snow high up ( five centimeters of snow in Sonmarg) : road has been closed again.
Manali-leh is still out after Keylong , which just has received five centimeters of snow.
Manali-Kaza is out after snowfall and slides after Grampho.
North side of the Rothang La , by Avinash Siddhu , on the 17th – before renewed snowfall hit the Rothang , turning in to rain lower down. Baralacha La still out.
And a promising feel to the eastward road from Gramphu towards the Kunzum La , again , before the last snow.
A number of reports of snowfall from Chitkul , Baralacha La and even Kaza.
At the Chang La pass an avalanche killed a tourist , a local from Leh later also died from his injuries while the army managed to rescue 73 others trapped by the avalanche which laid two meters of snow masses over the road.
Srinagar-Leh road also out , from slides ,not avalanches.
Sources : Himvani.com , bcm.touring , ANI ,India Met. Department
In Greater Kashmir today : light vehicles now running , and heavy vehicles allowed from April 20th. First 170 vehicles has started for Leh , and traffic from Kargil to Srinagar started .
Srinagar-Leh , Saturday Tribune photo
Big buzz in the news about the Srinagar-Leh road opening today , which on a closer look proved to be a dud :
* the official road marker on web , leh.nic.in , still shows the road as closed.
* a news story quotes police both in Kargil and Srinagar denying that the road has opened
* Border Roads Organisation , who are in charge of clearing the road says ““It has been snowing in Sonamarg, Baltal and the Zojilla pass area since yesterday (Monday) evening and it is likely that the opening of the Srinagar-Leh highway would now be delayed for some time more”.
““All we said was that the snow clearance operation was in full swing in the Zojilla Pass area of the road. The road is likely to be thrown open for two-way traffic by April 20 and as of now, it remains closed,”
* other news stories talks of fresh snowfall on Monday triggering avalanches
* weather today : rain in Srinagar and Gulmarg , expected to turn in to snow at higher locations. Think slush avalanches.
UPDATE : SASE , the Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment , issues low level avalanche warning for Kargil district on the 31st.
For the latest Srinagar-Leh updates , go here ( short catchy link : http://korta.nu/sleh ) . For the informed guess , here are the opening dates in April and May over the last ( almost ) decade , 2001-2009.
It made me surprised myself , when it comes out in a diagram : the “typical” openings around the turn of April/May are matched by the equally frequent “extreme late” openings from mid-to-end May . The observant webbie have probably already noticed that there are ten openings in nine years : the 2008 opening was a mildly chaotic affair , lasting a single day , with a few hundred Indians in solid summer clothes experiencing avalanches cutting the road behind & ahead of them , making it in to Leh . Eventually. Thus the statistical term “iffy” : a officially open road is no guarantee that you will make it on the exact date you have in mind.
After being closed for more than three weeks , and bringing down fifteen dead ( last found on December 1st) , the Rothang La has opened again. BRO have had seventy people and and a number of bulldozers going arond the clock (partly from the concern that the engines would be unable to start again once they froze ) to clear five to ten feet of snow between Koksar and Marhi. A large number of vehicles ( Tribune says , unspecified , “hundreds”) mainly based in Manali , will first be allowed to cross over to Manali , after that transports to Lahaul on the Manali-Leh highway can resume.
In Kashmir the Indian Air Force has started to airlift people between Srinagar and Kargil with Antonov AN32 planes , taking among others patients to Srinagar hospital.
On another note the bus traffic in Ladakh has been secured for the next season : the three month long strike has been called off after what seems like a total victory for the SRTC drivers and conductors : all back wages ( more than six months !) will be paid and at the new terms agreed on earlier this year , and JKSRTC will be reorganised along the lines of the Himachal state bus line , that we all love and yearn for in our daily lives.
Sources : Tribune , The Hindu , New Kerala . Antonov at Leh airport wikimedia commons picture.
Army units set up tea tents , manned by among others a doctor and army medics, providing food and heat after a three day standstill on the Srinagar-Leh highway yesterday. 272 civilians were served at the langar before evacuation , and truckers were provided with blankets and kerosene to thaw up after the recent heavy snowfalls , closing the Srinagar-Leh Highway after managing to bring out some 150 vehicles.
Other 3000-ish locations , like Gulmarg and Pahalgam , have also received snow the last week , lower down turning in to sleet and rain.
Jammu-Srinagar road has been unaffected.