Srinagar: Indian-administered-Kashmir witnessed the hottest day in February in 76 years as the mercury rose to 20.6 degrees Celsius in Srinagar on Tuesday, more than 10 degrees above normal for this time of the year.
"Srinagar had recorded a high of 20.6 degrees Celsius in the month of February in 1940. After a gap of 76 years, the same temperature was recorded yesterday," Director local Meteorological department Sonum Lotus said here.
He said the maximum temperature is presently 11 degrees above normal and is expected to rise further due to clear skies.
However, he said a minor variation in the weather condition can change the trend.
"So far it is the highest day temperature in the last 76 years in the month of February," he said.
Kashmir Valley is witnessing bright winter sunshine giving a feel of early arrival of spring which usually starts at the end of March.
The sprouting of plants and blooming of some flower varieties -- signs of spring in Kashmir -- have started at least one month ahead of the natural process due to the early favourable temperature.
The development has become a source of concern for environmentalists who see it as an effect of climate change.
Apart from occasional snowfall ranging from moderate to heavy in the high altitude areas in the Valley, the plains, including summer capital, Srinagar, virtually witnessed a snow-less winter, much to the concern of the farming community especially the orchardists.
The farmers are concerned that below average snowfall and rains are expected to have an impact on farming activities in the coming months and early blooming might result in shortfall in produce as the fruit yielding flowers are weak and cannot survive if hit by inclement weather.
Srinagar experienced brief spells of snowfall on two occasions in the past two months but there was no accumulation of snow.
The 'Chilai Kalan', the 40-day harsh period of winter which begins on December 21, not only remained mostly dry but also saw mercury settle at several degrees above normal temperatures.
Meanwhile, the night temperature in most parts of Kashmir marked a slight improvement but continued to remain 10 degrees below freezing point in the frontier region of Ladakh.
Srinagar recorded a low of minus 0.3 degrees Celsius, one degree below normal, during this part of the season, the MET office said.
The famous ski resort of Gulmarg in north Kashmir recorded a minimum of minus 2.2 degrees Celsius against Tuesday's minus 3.5 degrees Celsius.
The southern hill resort of Pahalgam, which serves as a base camp during annual Amarnath yatra, recorded a low of minus 2.9 degrees Celsius against the previous night's minus 3.9 degrees Celsius.
The minimum temperature recorded in Leh town of Ladakh was minus 10.8 degrees Celsius - almost two degrees below the previous night, while the nearby Kargil town recorded a low of minus 10 degrees Celsius against yesterday's minus 9.8 degrees Celsius, the MET office said.