Winter packs wallop in Asia, Europe

Indians in the Kashmir Valley are cut off and freezing, and 15,000 Austrian tourists were trapped as winter gripped parts of Europe and south Asia, the BBC reported.

In Asia, the Times of India said thousands in the Kashmir Valley are without power since Friday as crews work to repair damaged wires. Hundreds of thousands are without power, Internet or mobile phone service as the temperature dropped.

"Both the major transmission lines used to import power into the valley from the country's northern grid … have snapped across the Pir Panjal mountains due to heavy snowfall. We are trying to restore our system on a war footing," a source, who declined to give his name, told the TOI.

The capital of Pakistan is also digging out, MSN India reported. Islamabad and rural areas of Pakistan are facing rain, fog and the first snowfall in eight years for some. 

In Austria, about four feet of the white stuff has fallen from the sky in areas most affected, closing sections of highway and isolating some towns since Thursday.

Avalanche risk is extreme as more snow is forecast in the coming days.

Snowfall trapped some 15,000 tourists at ski resorts on the Arlberg Mountain on Friday, and while some roads are open there, others remain closed, the BBC said.

To prepare itself for any potential disasters, the Austrian army has put helicopters on alert.

High winds are also whipping the nation, and closed an important rail line, the International Business Times said.

The most snow has fallen in the western states of Tyrol and Vorarlberg. A government official in Vorarlberg said 52 people were rescued by an army helicopter there.

An important rail line that connects Vienna and Innsbruck with western Austria and Switzerland was to be closed until Sunday, the IBT said. Two rail lines that connect western Austria with Germany were also closed.

According to the Washington Post, the 52 tourists rescued by the military were stranded for two days. They couldn’t make their way down from a mountain refuge 5,720 feet above sea level because of the avalanche danger.

Snowfalls in Austria as many of the world's ski resorts are praying for a dump. CNN reports that popular wintertime destinations in Colorado, Nevada and California are experiencing record low snow.

The average snow base at seven U.S. resorts on Thursday was about 14 inches, CNN said, a drastic decline from the 350-inch average at one U.S. destination; it's one of the lowest amounts in almost 50 years.

"It doesn't look like there's going to be huge improvement the next two weeks, and we're getting halfway through winter by then," climatologist David Robinson told CNN.

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