Guide to Catch a Snowfall!
One of the most frequently asked Questions here has to be this one :
Q. I am travelling to XYZ in ABC month. Will I be able to see snow ?
A. First thing you need to do is differentiate between "Snow" and "Snow Fall". Snow is usually available in some form or the other near the Hill Stations through-out the year. But Snow Fall happens during the winters. I assume when most people say "Snow" they refer to the witnessing the falling of Snow and not the dirty muddy pieces of icy snow that they pass off as snow at places like Rohtang in the Summers just to take the tourists for a ride. So you need to get the facts right and plan accordingly.
The best way to plan for seeing a Snow Fall to do is check with the forecasts on various Internet websites and compare the forecasts. If a majority forecast snowfall then there is a good chance of snow. Also check the minimum and maximum temperatures for that period. If the day time temperature is around 4 degrees C or lower and its cloudy, the precipitation would likely be in the form of Snow. It might initially start as rain and then turn into sleet and finally into snow. And if it starts raining in the night it would be good chance that you would wake up to a white morning with a shroud of silence around that only a snowfall could bring.
In the Himalayan context it usually snows at the better known Hill Stations mostly in December, January and February. There could be snowfalls out of this period as well but 80% of the snowfalls take place in this season at Hill Stations with an altitude of upto around 2000 meters. There of course can be freak Snowfalls which might extended into April. At altitudes beyond this level it could snow (as in a snow fall) from October to April. And above 3000 meters it could snow all round the year once the conditions are ripe.
I give you an example of the Snowfalls in Kashmir in 2017 which might give you an idea as I was personally present on these occasions of Snowfalls and hence remember them quite well.
The first Snowfall that I witnessed in Kashmir was on, believe it or not April 6th when we had freak Snowfall in Srinagar itself though it was quite brief but still unusual.
The first heavy Snowfall of the Winter season I witnessed in Gulmarg where it snowed in the first Week of November. The first Snowfall of that season in Srinagar occured on December 12th. And then there was a Snowfall in the second Week on February, 2018.
In between it was Snowing regularly in the higher reaches like Gulmarg. That's no surprise, Gulmarg being in the Pir Panjals gets the heaviest snow as no where in the Himalayas does it snow as much as in the Pir Panjals.
You need to keep an eye out for the Western Disturbance which comes from the Mediterranean side and causes Snowfall especially in the Valley and the Western Himalayas.
Just adding a pic of a snowfall in February 2018. As seen in Badamwari.
PS : We at, Travel The Himalayas are organising "Snowfall" special Tours, which are tailored specifically keeping in mind the Weather patterns historically and combining them with real time Data from the Indian Meteorological department and other Weather forecasting Websites. Its your best chance of catching a Snowfall. Do get in touch if interested.