Shimla received this year’s first spell of snowfall on Thursday morning, bringing cheer to tourists, hoteliers and apple growers.
The snow and rain in Himachal Pradesh since Wednesday broke a prolonged dry spell that lasted over a month. January witnessed a 53% rain deficit much to the worry of farmers and fruit growers.
Also read: IMD forecasts rain today and hotter days till Feb 7
“We are looking forward to more tourists visiting the state in the coming days as snowfall is forecast across the mid and high hills,” said Shimla Hotel and Restaurant Association president Sanjay Sood.
Hotel occupancy that was about 30% till last week is set to climb to 70% thanks to the snowfall, he said. “This time, there are no restrictions like night curfew or markets closed on Sunday due to Covid-19 so tourists can freely enjoy in Himachal Pradesh,” he said, urging visitors to adhere to safety guidelines by wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.
NH-22 besides 200 lateral roads in state closed
The strategic Hindustan-Tibet Road or National Highway 22 was closed for traffic at Kufri and Narkanda near Shimla due to the snowfall. Kufri received 8cm of snowfall. Shimla, which received 2cm of snowfall till 10.30am, recorded a minimum temperature of 1.8 degrees Celsius.
“Besides NH-22, more than 200 lateral roads in the state have been closed for traffic due to the snowfall and slippery conditions,” state public works department chief engineer Archana Thakur said.
Manali, Dalhousie get snow too as mercury drops
Kalpa, the headquarters of Kinnaur district, received 11.4cm of snowfall, while Keylong, the district headquarters of Lahaul and Spiti, got 3cm of snow.
Manali, a popular tourist destination, got 4cm of snowfall on Thursday and recorded a low of 4 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature in Dalhousie dropped to -1.8 degrees after it received 2cm of snowfall.
The local meteorological department has warned of thunderstorm and lightning in Una, Bilaspur, Kangra, Kullu and Mandi districts on Thursday. Rain and snow are forecast at isolated places in the middle and high hills on Friday.