Hailstorms damage orchards, bring on cold in Kashmir

Srinagar:Bouts of hailstorm and a fall in temperature continue to damage and destroy apple and cherry orchards and paddy crop across the Kashmir Valley, officials said. However, the weather is likely to improve Tuesday onwards.

“There was a massive hailstorm in over two dozen villages of central Badgam and northern Baramulla districts yesterday (Monday), causing widespread damage to fruit crops of apple, cherry etc., in these areas”, said a government official, who did not want to be named.

He said there was panic and chaos in villages of north, south and central kashmir districts due to the hailstorms.

Last week, hailstorms hit orchards in Shopian in south Kashmir and Ganderbal and Kupwara in the north.

Usually, spring hailstorms do not affect the paddy sowing but the steep fall in night temperatures has destroyed the nurseries in some places in the Kashmir Valley.

“I am sowing paddy afresh today after the first sowing failed due to the cold night temperatures over the fortnight,” said a farmer in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.

The inclement weather also brought fresh snowfall in the higher reaches, pulling down temperature in the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The minimum temperature fell to minus 3.1 degrees Celsius in Gulmarg today (Tuesday) while it was minus 0.5 degree in Pahalgam, minus 1.2 degrees in Leh, 3.0 degrees in Kargil and 4.2 in Srinagar”, Sonam Lotus, director of the local weather office, told IANS.

“The sky will remain overcast today with the possibility of a hailstorm at some isolated places in the valley and the hilly areas of the Jammu division,” he said.

But he also said that forecasting a hailstorm was not easy since they were location specific.

“However, there will be gradual improvement in weather from today. The unstable weather conditions will improve, making way for larger periods of sunshine in the next two or three days,” he said.

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