Mukhtar Ahmad, Deputy Director, Meteorological Department, Srinagar speaks to The Indian Express.
Is it unusual for the Valley to be witnessing such heavy snowfall in the beginning of November?
No. Last year, we had snowfall in the plains on November 3. But the snow was concentrated in north and central Kashmir. There was very low snowfall, for example, in Sonamarg, which usually witnesses heavy snowfall. The snowfall was also less in south Kashmir.
What explains the widespread damage and destruction caused this year?
As far as the Met department is concerned, we think in terms of precipitation and not losses or damage caused by it.
How would you explain the early snowfall this year?
Initially, it was a normal western disturbance. It was a moderate system and we didn’t expect much snow. But then because of the recent cyclone MAHA, it got moisture incursion and the system intensified.
Are the low temperatures unusual for this time of the year?
Yes, it is relatively colder. In November, the temperature usually hovers around 18-20 degrees Celsius. This time when it snowed, the temperature dipped to 6 degrees Celsius, a huge departure of 12 to 14 degrees. There is also the psychological impact. Since there was not much of sun this last week, people are naturally feeling cold.
Given the early snowfall, is the winter expected to be harsher this time?
There is no link between early snowfall and what is in store for us this coming winter. Last year, we had early snowfall and then there was a long, dry spell. We again had snow, in abundance, in January and February. So it is too early to say how the winter will be in terms of precipitation (snow and rainfall) and temperature. As far as temperature is concerned, it dips up to -10 degrees Celsius during the night. We don’t expect much departure from the normal in the coming months. The departure is likely to stay between 2 and 4 degrees Celsius.