(TibetanReview.net, Dec20, 2018) – The Potala Palace was closed on Dec 19 while more than 3,000 passengers were stranded in Gonggar Airport on Dec 18 due to heavy snowfall which continued for 24 hours in Tibet’s capital Lhasa, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 19.
The authorities had announced free entry to the palace from Nov 1 to Mar 15 next year as a significant part of its programme to promote “Winter Tourism in Tibet”.
Due to the heavy snow, the steep stone stairs leading to the Potala Palace atop a hill became slippery, a statement released by the palace’s administrative office was quoted as saying late Dec 18.
“The palace is usually only closed on the Tibetan New Year’s Eve and the second day of the New Year. There was no closure due to weather in the past,” Jorden, deputy director of the palace administrative office, was quoted as saying.
The city was reported to have accumulated 10 cm of snow, with the temperature having dropped to minus 9.4 degrees Celsius at 9 am Dec 19.
The Potala Palace, a World Heritage site in Lhasa, was the traditional winter home of the Dalai Lamas and independent Tibet’s government headquarters.
Another Xinhua report said more than 3,000 passengers were stranded in Gonggar Airport on Dec 18 due to heavy snow.
Airport officials were cited as saying the snow had reduced visibility on the runways and landing fields. As of 6:15 pm, 47 flights were cancelled, the report said.
The snow was about 52 days later than when it usually came in other years, Du Jun, director of the regional meteorological center, was cited as saying.