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Jammu & Kashmir's 2020/21 winter season is off to a brutal start after the mercury plunged to -6.6C (20F) in Srinagar on December 19, compounding the misery caused by the recent disruptive snowstorms.

Jammu & Kashmir's winter months are divided into three stages: Stage 1) the intense 40-day period known as "Chillai Kalan" starting Dec. 21, Stage 2) the less intense 20-day spell called "Chillai Khurd", and finally Stage 3) the 10-days of mild cold entitled "Chille Bache".

This year, two days before "Chillai Kalan" had even begun, Srinagar recorded the bone-chilling low of -6.6C (20F) — a reading that was not only the lowest of the season so far, but also the second-coldest December temperature of the past decade, according to the region's meteorological department.


"I could not reach the floating vegetable market on the lake today as the lake's surface was frozen at many places," said Nazir Ahmad, a vegetable dealer who traverses the ancient lake on his boat every day. He added: "The lake has been freezing during the nights in the past four-five days."

While Dal Lake is known to freeze-over in winter, this long-lasting bought of cold - particularly before "Chillai Kalan" had even commenced - isn't normal.


The tourist resort of Gulmarg, which is located in the Baramulla district of Jammu & Kashmir, recorded a low -6.4C (20.5F) over the weekend.

As reported by, Gulmarg has already had four spells of heavy snow this winter, and winter games have begun on the resort's slopes.

Leh, in the Union Territory of Ladakh, recorded a low of -13.1C (8.4F).

While Kargil dipped to a -20C (-4F).

And Drass shivered through -20.5C (-4.9F).

Driving all this exceptional cold is the deep snow currently capping the northern mountains. As explained by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the snow is cooling the northerly winds, and has resulted in the average temperature across India holding some 5C below the norm of late.

The department added that this is setup is working in a vicious feedback loop: the colder the plains, the greater the snowfall in the mountains, and the greater the snowfall in the mountains, the colder the plains.

As a result, most towns and cities across India are at risk of severe bouts of cold this winter season. This has actually been the case since late-September, during which time hundreds of all-time cold records have tumbled, with the "biggies" being the nation's capital Delhi registering its coldest months of October and November in 58 and 71-years, respectively.

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