The 40-day intense winter period “chillai kalan” started in Kashmir valley on Monday with sub-zero night temperatures across the region.

This year, winter started on a harsh note as the temperature dropped to a record minus 6.6 degrees Celsius in Srinagar on December 19, the lowest temperature of the season, and also the second-coldest December night in the past decade.

The mercury dipped to minus 4 degrees Celsius in Srinagar on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday, 2.5 notches below the normal, said a meteorological department officer.

Dal Lake in Srinagar was frozen in parts.

“I could not reach the floating vegetable market on the lake today as the lake’s surface was frozen at many places. The lake has been freezing during the nights in the past four-five days,” said Nazir Ahmad, a vegetable dealer who traverses the lake on his boat every day.

The tourist resort of Gulmarg witnessed a temperature of minus 6.4 degrees Celsius. Gulmarg has already had four spells of snow this winter and winter games have begun on the icy slopes of the resort.

The cold wave has been leaving water taps frozen every night across Kashmir.

“While some people use warm water to break the chill of the water pipes every day, others have been making use of insulated foam tubes to cover the pipes, “ said Ishfaq Ahmad, a plumber in the old city.

Meteorological department director Sonam Lotus has predicted that the valley will receive light snowfall with the onset of chillai kalan.

Kashmir’s winter pans out in three stages, starting with the 40-day intense period from December 21(chillai kalan) followed by 20 days that are less intense (chillai khurd) and then 10 days of mild cold (chille bache).

The night temperatures continued to drop in most places of Kashmir.

Jammu was also cold at 5.8 degrees Celsius. Leh in the Union Territory of Ladakh recorded a low of minus 13.1 degrees Celsius, while Kargil recorded a low of minus 20 degrees Celsius and Drass, the second-coldest place in the world, observed minus 20.5 degrees Celsius.

The night temperatures started dipping in Jammu and Kashmir from December 14 after snowfall over the weekend.