If you love making snowmen and playing on white carpets of snow overlooking scenic valleys, then you need not go farther than the Margalla Hills this winter. After six years, snow returned to Islamabad as Pir Sohawa, the city’s highest tourist spot, received at least two inches of snow on Friday night.
The meteorological department predicted more snow in Islamabad in the coming days as temperatures are likely to drop further. “We can expect snowfall even in the downtown area because mercury is likely to drop further in the coming days,” an official of the met office told The Express Tribune.
A 45-minute drive from downtown Islamabad, Pir Sohawa, a rapidly developing tourist resort, remained crowded on Saturday as news of the snowfall spread.
Blessing for vendors
The weekend snowfall not only proved to be a treat for tourists, but the low tempereature was also a blessing for vendors selling fast food items, winter delicacies and warm clothing.
Ayaz Khan, a shopkeeper in Aabpara Market who sells woollen caps, gloves and socks, said he had “never received so many customers in a single day”.
Qasim Ejaz, a sales manager at Munchies in Super Market, said in the last two days, coffee and green tea lovers have “flooded” his shop. He said the sales have almost doubled, with a lot of people also demanding fish burgers.
Vendors selling pakoras, samosas and boiled eggs at the start of the loopy trail to Pir Sohava were also thronged by customers.
Abdullah, a who sells boiled eggs, said he earned Rs2,000 in a day, “which I have never done in my entire life”. A more fortunate pakora seller, Rashid Abbasi, claimed to have earned Rs6,000, doubling his usual daily sales.
“So far it has been a really dry winter and I was worried. The expected winter boom has finally arrived,” said Shams Khan, a vendor selling dry fruit.
Chief Meteorologist Arif Mehmood explained that the snowfall was the result of very low temperatures and substantial moisture in the area. He said that Murree received 10 inches of snow while Pir Sohawa received two inches.
A psychiatrist from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Professor Dr Rizwan Taj, termed the snow “a welcome change that would improve people’s moods”. He said the change in weather has broken the dry spell, which is beneficial to allergy patients.
Environmentalist Dr Pervaiz Amir attributed the snowfall due to “extreme changes in the climate patterns”, but termed it a good sign from multiple points of view. He said it has put an end to the long dry spell in the area and will settle down dust particles in the air; it will help overcome diseases caused due to the dryness. Besides, it will also increase water flow in streams and dams, which will help with the water shortage, Amir added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2012.