ISLAMABAD, Feb 4: With Islamabad out of the El Niño/La Niña cycle effects and the cold wave sweeping down from north, experts predicted that Margalla Hills will witness a spell of snowfall in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Meteorological Department says that the snowfall at Margalla comes after four years and would be accompanied by a hailstorm in the plain areas of federal capital.
“The last time the hill tops of Margalla received snowfall was in 2009,” said Dr Muhammad Hanif, Director of National Weather Forecasting Centre.
“This year we predict at least 2-3 similar spells,” he added.
Sunday and Monday were wet days in the twin cities and adjoining areas, and day-time temperatures dipped sharply as it rained and snowed in the north.
The minimum temperature recorded in Islamabad on Monday was 8 degrees centigrade.
The nights till now have been relatively warmer and humid because the dense cloud cover prevented solar radiation from escaping back into the atmosphere, but as cloud cover reduces on the nights between Monday and Tuesday temperatures will go down further.
Meanwhile, Murree witnessed seven inches of snowfall on Monday, and the mercury tipped to minus 3 degrees.
At least one foot of snowfall had been recorded in Murree till the filing of this report. Roads were blocked and there were massive traffic jams.
In some places in Murree, electricity was suspended for six hours. The weather will worsen as the Met Office sources predict more snowfall over the next three days.
The Murree administration has advised tourists not to use Expressway and instead come through the old Rawalpindi-Murree Kashmir Highway to avoid inconvenience.
Even though the satellite imagery at the Met Office website showed thinning of clouds over central and northern Punjab, Dr Hanif said that clouds and cold winds were advancing from Afghanistan and a cold wave would grip the entire country by Tuesday evening.
Rain brings trouble in Rawalpindi
Heavy rains with gusty winds lashed the city on Monday, and raised water level at Leh Nullah up to 11 feet, which inundated streets, roads and low-lying areas of the city.
The situation was worse on those roads where construction work for laying water supply and sewerage pipelines is underway.
Motorists and pedestrians on these stretches faced difficulties while commuting.
District Officer Solid Waste Management Dr Mazhar Azeem said that most drains along the major roads had been cleared of silt, but it was natural for rainwater to stagnate for some time.
“Many roads in downtown areas were inundated because people dump solid waste into the drains and so water logged on the roads,” he added.
Monday’s rain was also a source of misery for slum-dwellers in Gawalmandi, Marrir Hassan, Dhoke Ratta and Pirwadhai on the bank of Leh Nullah and New Katarian.
Most slum dwellers vacated their homes for safer grounds fearing that their ramshackle houses would collapse during heavy rain.
Rub Nawaz, who works as a labourer at I-II Vegetable and Fruit market and is a father of six children, had taken shelter at Khayaban-i-Sir Syed graveyard when rainwater entered his house in Fauji Colony.
Similarly, Shaukat Hussain, a slum dweller at Dhoke Ratta, moved to the Railway pedestrian bridge with his children who all had a cold.
Rawal Town Administrator Saif Anwar Jappa told Dawn that there was no report of house collapse in the city. He said that the slum dwellers had taken shelter at various places because they had illegally built their mud houses and the town had no accommodation to provide them.
He claimed that all emergency services had been put on red alert to deal with any emergency.
“We have already activated our relief centres in different schools to accommodate the residents of low-lying areas in case of flood in Leh Nullah. However, the water level in the Leh Nullah was 11 feet at Katarian bridge and 10 feet at Gawalmandi, and the situation is still under control,” he said.
Farmers have a field day
The farmers of Rawalpindi division got into a state of happiness as torrential rain lashed the area. The unusual heavy spell of rain which started on Sunday noon was seen at its peak on Monday noon.
According to Met Office the rainfall would last till Tuesday afternoon in Rawalpindi division.
Agriculture experts are of the view that heavy rainfall would have “a very good impact” for the Rabi crops, particularly for wheat. Mustard, gram and lentil which are on important growth stage right now have been badly hit by dry weather in past four years but this year as reasonable rain was recorded in December the crops are in good health.
“Chakwal district has received 60mm rain which is quite unusual as compared to previous years,” said Dr Muhammad Hanif. — Also contributed by Abid Abbasi and Nabeel Anwar Dhakku