The 40-day harshest winter period in Kashmir, known in the local parlance as 'Chillai-Kalan', began on a dry note on Friday, even. As cold wave conditions continue to prevail in the Valley and Ladakh region the minimum temperature settled several notches below the freezing point.
'Chillai-Kalan' -- a harsh winter period of 40 days when the snowfalls are most frequent and temperatures drop considerably -- marked its beginning in Kashmir on Friday, MET department officials said.
The 'Chillai-Kalan' period ends on January 31, but the cold wave continues even after that in Kashmir. It is followed by a 20-day 'Chillai-Khurd' (small cold) and a 10-day long 'Chillai-Bachha' (baby cold).
The officials said while the weather remained dry across Kashmir, temperatures dipped at most places last night and settled several notches below the freezing point.
The minimum temperature last night was also several points below the normal for this part of the season in the Valley, they said.
Srinagar - the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir - was the only place in the valley where the night temperature rose last night.
The city recorded a low of minus 4.4 degrees Celsius last night compared to minus 4.9 degrees Celsius the previous night, the officials said.
They said the minimum temperature in the city was around three notches below the normal for this time of the season.
The officials said Qazigund - the gateway town to the Valley - in south Kashmir recorded a low of minus 4.7 degrees Celsius, while the nearby Kokernag town registered a low of minus 4.0 degrees Celsius last night.
Kupwara in north Kashmir recorded a low of minus 5.8 degrees Celsius last night, they said.
The night temperature in Pahalgam, which serves as one of the base camps for the annual Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir, settled at a low of minus 7.5 degrees Celsius last night - down from the previous night's minus 6.8 degrees Celsius.
The ski-resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded a minimum temperature of minus 6.0 degrees Celsius last night - down from the previous night's minus 5.4 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
The normal for this time of the winter in the twin resorts is minus 4.4 degrees Celsius and minus 4.8 degrees Celsius respectively.
Leh district of Ladakh region recorded a low of minus 12.7 degrees Celsius last night - up from minus 14.7 degrees Celsius the previous night, the officials said.
The nearby Kargil registered the minimum temperature of minus 15.1 degrees Celsius last night.
The MET office has forecast mainly dry weather for the week ahead.