Extreme weather caused by westerly disturbance grips nationMountain districts see moderate to heavy snowfall and lower regions experience rainfall while the Tarai belt witnesses windstorms.
Western disturbances in the last few days have led to extreme cold conditions with the mountainous districts witnessing moderate to heavy snowfall, the lower regions experiencing rainfall and a few Tarai districts have been battered by windstorms. The weather pattern will stay the same until next week, according to the Meteorological Forecasting Division.
“The effect of the westerly winds has brought a change in the weather pattern that started from the Far West region of the country three days ago,” said Prativa Manandhar, meteorologist at the Meteorological Forecasting Division. “Its effect is going to last till Sunday.”
According to a Division report, the effect of the westerly disturbance has resulted in cloudy conditions across the country with light to moderate rain on Friday. The westerly disturbance has caused heavy snowfall, disrupting daily life and bringing the transportation system across the country to a halt.
“Most parts of the country, including Kathmandu Valley, were covered by rain clouds on Friday with light rain and snowfall in the surrounding hills since early morning. The rain clouds will last till Saturday afternoon, and there is likely to be light rain,” said Manandhar.
According to Manandhar, the daily temperature in Kathmandu Valley is likely to decrease by two to three degrees Celsius by Sunday.
On Friday, Kathmandu recorded a minimum temperature of 5.5 degrees Celsius and a maximum temperature of 16.5 degrees Celsius.
The extreme minimum temperature ever recorded in Kathmandu was -2 degrees Celsius on December 31, 1977.
According to the Division, the minimum temperature in the Valley this winter was 5.4 degrees Celsius on December 11 last year.
According to the Division’s chart on Friday, Jumla district witnessed the lowest temperature in the country at minus 1 degree Celsius followed by Dadeldhura, which recorded a temperature of minus o.6 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, the highest temperature was reported in Biratnagar at 23.7 degrees Celsius, followed by Janakpur at 23.6 degrees Celsius.
The weather condition has disrupted transportation, phone and internet networks in several high altitude districts in six provinces, except for Lumbini.
In Province 1, continuous snowfall in Solukhumbhu for the past two days has led to extreme cold. Khumjung, Namche Bazaar, Lukla, Salleri and Pattale in the district have been receiving heavy snowfall since Thursday. Namche Bazaar is blanketed in at least two feet of snow with the temperature dipping as low as minus eight degrees Celsius, according to local residents.
Vehicles leaving Solukhumbu on Friday could not move past Patale Bazaar, the entry point to the district.
“More than 45 vehicles used to leave the district every day. But today, not a single one left Pattale because of snowfall,” said District Traffic Police Chief Krishna Katawal.
In Madhes Province, strong winds claimed three lives on Friday. Two boys in Dhanusha died on the spot after a tree fell on them while a 45-year-old woman from Rautahat died after her house collapsed in a windstorm.
Superintendent of Police Tul Bahadur Karki, spokesperson at the Province Police Office in Janakpur, informed that the two boys, aged 8 and 12, died on the premises of Fakirchand Secondary School in Dhanusha.
Meanwhile, the woman from Rautahat, who had sustained serious injuries after her house collapsed on her, died while being taken to a health centre in Maulapur for treatment, said Police Inspector Sushil Kumar Pandey.
The Provincial Police Office also informed that the windstorm blew the roofs of five houses at a Musahar settlement in Khesraha of Pakahamainpur Rural Municipality in Parsa district.
Meanwhile, a programme to mark the anniversary of the Province Assembly of Madhes Province was called off after a windstorm swept away the tents set up on the Province Assembly premises in Janakpur on Friday.
In Bagmati Province, high altitude regions such as Rasuwa, Ramechhap, Dolakha, Sindhupalchok and Makawanpur districts have also been witnessing snowfall for the past few days.
Beding village in Gaurishankar Rural Municipality of Dolakha has been receiving snowfall for the past week while around two dozen villages in the district have been completely blanketed in snow.
“Beding has received around five feet of snow so far,” said Dawa Tsering Sherpa, a local resident. “We have been unable to come out of our homes for the past one week.”
The Daman section of the Tribhuvan Highway has remained disrupted since Friday morning. Police Inspector Shreeram Timilsina informed that around one foot of snow has covered the Golmod-Daman road section of the highway.
Likewise, Helambu Rural Municipality in Sindhupalchok has also witnessed over three feet of snow, according to rural municipality vice-chairperson Kopila Pandit.
Several districts of Gandaki Province also witnessed heavy snowfall and rain on Friday. Temperatures have plummeted in the region as high-altitude districts received heavy snowfall while the hilly areas received rainfall throughout the day.
In Manang, almost all highland settlements have been witnessing snowfall since Thursday afternoon.
Manang Chief District Officer Rabindra Prasad Acharya informed that Manang, Tanki Manang, Humde, Pisang, Nar and Phu, Kyang, Chyakhu and Chame Bazaar, the district headquarters, have been witnessing heavy snowfall.
“Areas including Koto, Thanchok and Timang have been experiencing strong winds coupled with snowfall,” said Acharya. “Telephone, mobile and internet services in Chame, Thanchok and Timang, among other areas, have been disrupted.”
According to Lopsang Gurung of Manang village in upper Manang, the area also experienced strong winds along with snowfall on Friday.
“Around 6-7 inches of snow has blanketed the area while strong winds have led to a dip in temperature,” said Gurung. “Heavy snowfall has disrupted roadways to Thorong La Bhanjyang and Tilicho.”
Sub-Inspector Sitaram Dhamala at the Border Police Post in Dharapani informed that several vehicles are stuck at Danakyu due to road disruption and telephone networks in the area are down.
“There is no telephone connection in Narpabhumi due to heavy snowfall,” said Mingma Tshering Lama, chairman of Narphabhumi Rural Municipality, who is currently in Kathmandu. “The roads leading to Nar and Phu villages have been obstructed by heavy snow.”
In Myagdi district, the vast majority of its local units received heavy snowfall on Friday. Rural roads across the district and foot trails leading to Gurja village have been blocked by snow.
“Almost all parts of the district have witnessed snowfall and the daily lives of all residents have been disrupted,” said DSP Shyam Kumar Rai. “Although there has not been any report of damages and casualties, we urge everyone to remain vigilant and stay indoors.”
In Mustang, snowfall has disrupted air as well as road travel. Pokhara-Jomsom flights have been halted while all roadways, including the Mustang section of the Beni-Jomsom road, have been obstructed due to snowfall.
“Upper Mustang and Lete have received around one foot of snowfall while the Jomsom area is blanketed in around six inches of snow,” said DSP Ram Kumar Dani.
In Tanahun, Chimkeswori Hill in Aanbukhaireni Rural Municipality witnessed snowfall for the first time in 43 years.
Snow has also blanketed Gorkha district’s Barpak, Laprak, Samagaun and Chekampar, among other high-altitude regions. Barpak, situated around 1,900 metres above sea level, witnessed this year’s first snowfall.
Strong winds coupled with snowfall have made life difficult for the locals, said Tenzing Lama, a resident of Chekampar in Chumnubri Rural Municipality.
“We had never witnessed such strong winds and heavy snowfall in the area before,” said Lama.
Likewise, Gupsipakha settlement in Dharche Rural Municipality has also witnessed heavy snowfall. According to local resident Jit Bahadur Gurung, 573 families who were staying in a community settlement constructed after the 2015 earthquakes have returned to their old settlement to escape the cold.
Regions above 1,800 metres in Parbat district, including Jaljala, Modi, Mahashila rural municipalities and Phalebas Municipality, are witnessing snowfall while the lower regions of the district have been receiving rainfall.
Meanwhile, local farmers who rely on rainwater are happy with the current weather conditions.
“We can now expect a good harvest,” said Tara Bahadur Thapa, a farmer from Phalebas.
In Baglung, snow covered around a 5 km road section from Sip of Nishikhola to Patihalne of the Mid-Hill Highway.
“Around three feet of snow has covered the road section,” said Hari Bahadur Gharti, ward chairman of Nishikhola-6. “Schools have remained closed, cattle herders are stranded in the highlands and vehicular movement has come to a complete halt.”
The fourth snowfall within a year has made life difficult for the residents of Mugu in Karnali Province. Gamgadhi Bazaar, Talcha, Rara, Murma, Talitum, Mathitum, Bam, Rowa, Kotila, Topla, Mugu, Dolphu, Jhayari, Khamale and Sorukot have been experiencing heavy snowfall since Thursday night.
Vehicular movement in the district has been disrupted due to heavy snowfall. Gamgadhi-Nagma, Nagma-Jumla and Kalikot-Nagma roads have been blocked with several vehicles stranded on the way.
The only air service in the district has also come to a halt due to heavy snowfall. Chief of the Rara Civil Aviation Office Bishal Barun said that air service to and from Mugu has been disrupted because of adverse weather conditions.
All seven mountain districts of Sudurpaschim Province—Darchula, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Bajhang, Bajura, Doti and Achham—have been witnessing heavy snowfall since Thursday while two Tarai districts—Kailali and Kanchanpur—have been experiencing rainfall.
Transportation across Bajhang district has come to a halt with snowfall disrupting vehicular movement along the Jayaprithvi Highway and all feeder roads. Passengers have been stranded on their way to and from the district as the mountain roads have been covered by at least three feet of snow.
Sunsari Dhami, who has been stuck at Dolyamod along the Khopde-Bajhang road section since Thursday, says fellow travellers are falling sick due to extreme cold.
“The local hotels are packed with travellers so we had to spend the night outside around a fire. There are more than 60 public vehicles carrying at least 150 passengers stranded at Dolyamod,” Dhami said.
Clearing the roads is not possible since it’s still snowing in the area, according to the District Police Office in Bajhang.
Phone lines and internet services are also down in Bajhang and will not be back up anytime soon because of the continuous snowfall, according to Harendra Rai Yadav, chief of the distribution centre of Nepal Electricity Authority in Bajhang.
“The cold has affected the elderly and the children the most,” said Milan Dhami, a resident of Saipal Rural Municipality. “This is the first time in three years that we experienced such heavy snowfall. We haven’t been able to step out to graze our cattle or go about our daily lives.”
According to the residents of Darchula, several areas of the district have been witnessing snowfall for the past three days.
“It has been snowing heavily for a couple of days now,” said Navraj Bhatta, a resident of Byas Municipality Ward No 3.
“All the villages in Byas have been receiving heavy snowfall,” said Dilip Singh Budathoki, chairman of Byas Municipality. “Dumling, Rapla, Sunseri and Dhaulakot are covered in at least 3 feet of snow. We haven’t had any communication from Changru and Tinkar villages yet.”
Officials at the Meteorological Forecasting Division said there will be an improvement in the weather conditions only after the third week of February.
“We request the public to avoid long-distance travel till Sunday as it’s going to be very cold,” said Manandhar from the Meteorological Forecasting Division. “We ask them to take extra precautions while using heaters indoors or building a fire to avoid catastrophes this winter.”
(With contributions from our district correspondents.)