While this was definitely not a good thing from a climate point of view, the greatest thing about this winter for travelers was the less amount of snowfall all across Himalayas. It either did not snow at all at most of the hill stations; or snowed very late and very little. Even Spiti valley saw its first spell of snow by Mid February. Passes that usually receive 30 to 40 ft of snow received only 10 or 15 ft this year. This created an expectation that all road all across will open early this year; but recent spells of late snowfall have pretty much turned the story around everywhere.
To be honest, I am actually relived to some extent. The way the year was progressing, I was quite sure that we were in for a rough summer. By February, it looked like March was going to be hot and months of April to July brutal. Thankfully but, here we are well towards the end of April, and I still have not turned on my A.C.
And all this was because of the late snowfalls that prolonged the winter a little bit. This however caused problems in several other aspects.
First it did not snow when it was supposed to due to which winter crops all across Himalayas suffered heavily. Then it started to rain and snow in April the way it was not supposed to which again caused crops damage to local farmers. Last but not the least, snow clearing operations at several passes which were almost nearing the end came to a complete standstill.
By March, authorities were hopeful that every road and pass will be declared open early and it even happened that way. Srinagar to Leh route was opened by late March, a record opening; and Rohtang was opened in April first week. BRO was certain that they will restore connectivity on Manali Leh route by April 20th; and before the month ended, they will open Kunzum and Kaza route too. Even Sach Pass was expected to open by Mid-May this year. And then surprise surprise, it started to snow !!!
Late Snowfall – Current Situation
So the way situation as of now stands is,
- Srinagar Leh highway was closed again on 21st due to heavy snowfall at Zojila top. This however is a temporary situation and it will reopen again in a few days; provided that the weather holds and it doesn’t snow again.
- Rohtang was declared open in April first week but only for a few days as authorities were forced to close it again. It is snowing at the pass at regular intervals right now and there is no telling by when it will be restored again. For now, May first week is a safe time to assume.
- Manali Leh road was expected to open by early May but the opening will now be pushed towards Late May, the usual time that this road opens every year.
- Same applies for Manali Kaza route too. It won’t be restored before May end in all likelihood.
- After Kaza – Manali is restored, Chandratal will open towards June first week.
- Sach Pass will open in June first week only.
I know this is disappointing news to a lot of people; specially the ones who had their trips planned to Manali and Rohtang. I am myself included among those people. I have been waiting entire April for Rohtang to open so I could make a quick weekend visit; which now I cannot in May. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask at our Community Forum; or in comments section below; and I will be glad to answer.