(Clockwise from top) Tourists take photographs, police officials push their vehicle on a snow-covered road in Murree, a motorcyclist travels in the rain on Islamabad Expressway and staff of a company stand by a fire in Blue Area on Saturday. Photos by Tanveer Shahzad & APP
(Clockwise from top) Tourists take photographs, police officials push their vehicle on a snow-covered road in Murree, a motorcyclist travels in the rain on Islamabad Expressway and staff of a company stand by a fire in Blue Area on Saturday. Photos by Tanveer Shahzad & APP

• Met Office says Murree received 12 inches of snow
• Waterlogging reported in Pindi city areas
• Over 1,000 vehicles enter hill station on Saturday

RAWALPINDI: The twin cities saw light to heavy rain while Murree received 12 inches of snow on Saturday, causing the temperature to drop further and throwing normal life out of gear.

On the other hand, over 1,000 vehicles entered the hill station by 5pm deadline set by the district administration on Saturday.

The Met Office has predicted more rain and snow in the upper parts of the country during the week and issued a warning of urban flooding.

Residentsofthe twin cities woke up to a heavy overcast and light showers on Saturday morning which continued intermittently till the night.

According to the Met Office, 14mm of rain was recorded in Chaklala and 11mm in Shamsabad in the Rawalpindi region while 15mm of rain was reported in Saidpur and Zero Point, 11mm in Golra, 12mm in Bokra and 23mm in New Islamabad Airport.

According to the weather advisory, a strong westerly weather system was affecting upper and central parts of the country and might persist till Monday (morning).

Rain/snow wind-thunderstorm (with few heavy falls/hailstorm) is expected in Islamabad, upper Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, upper Punjab, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir while dense fog will envelope upper Sindh and plain areas of Punjab.

The advisory also warned that heavy snowfall might cause road blockades in tourist areas while heavy falls may lead to urban flooding in Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sargodha and Sialkot during the weekend.

Meanwhile, waterlogging was reported in most areas of the garrison city, with the worst affected areas being Committee Chowk Underpass, Amarpura near Naz Cinema, Jamia Masjid Road, Rawal Road, Sadiqabad and adjoining areas.

Talking to Dawn, Wasa Managing Director Raja Shaukat Mehmood said: “Water level in Leh Nullah remained normal, however, the civic body was monitoring the situation.”

He said teams had also been formed to drain out water from different parts of the city, adding that rain emergency had already been imposed as more rains were expected in the coming days.

Mr Mehmood said waterlogging was reported in various areas of the city, but “we cleared the roads by afternoon”.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal visited Murree on Friday night and reviewed the arrangements of removing snow from roads and maintaining traffic.

He also inspected the control room set up for monitoring and issued necessary instructions to the authorities.

The chief secretary appreciated the arrangements made by the administration, police and security agencies and said all preparations for relief activities during the snowfall were complete and the control room was fully operational.

He said cooperation of intending visitors was direly needed, and urged people to follow standard operating procedures and refrain from traveling to Murree when the traffic police advised them not to do so.

The Rawalpindi commissioner, deputy commissioner and other relevant officers were also present on the occasion.

Vehicles’ entry into Murree

A total of 1,133 vehicles were allowed into Murree by 5pm on Saturday, said a traffic police spokesperson.

He said so far 1,728 tourist vehicles arrived in Murree, out of which 534 left the hill station by the deadline.

Considering the safety of tourists during snowfall, 8,000 vehicles had been allowed to enter Murree by the district administration, which also imposed a ban on tourists from 5pm to 5am to ensure their safety.

For the convenience of tourists, traffic police have temporarily closed the Kuldana Road leading to Galiyat, urging travelers to use an alternative route. Tourists can, however, access Murree through Lower Topa.

He said Wasim Riaz, who is holding temporary charge of chief traffic officer (CTO), reviewed the traffic arrangements.

While giving instructions to officers and personnel deployed in Murree, the acting CTO said the traffic police had been providing occasional information to tourists about the weather through electronic and print media, traffic police FM radio 88.6 and social media.

Mr Riaz urged tourists to travel on a fit vehicle which had a toolkit during snowfall and avoid overtaking, improper parking and double lane driving.

Traffic wardens and district police had been stationed on highways for public guidance and help.

In case of an emergency, people can contact the traffic police on helpline number 051-9269200 or 03097770598.

Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2022

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