The Himachal Pradesh State Disaster Management Authority released an advisory after an avalanche warning was issued for Chamba, Lahaul-Spiti, Kullu, Kinnaur and Shimla regions of the state for Wednesday, The Times of India reported. The Snow and Avalanche Study Establishment had issued a warning for these regions for Tuesday and Wednesday.

A spokesperson of the state government said the district administration and district disaster management authorities were advised to monitor the situation in their areas and take precautionary measures, ANI reported. The spokesperson said district authorities have directed to keep search and rescue teams on standby and avoid movement on slopes.

The departments concerned have been asked to monitor national highways and other roads and make plans for evacuation of unprotected settlements on or near the avalanche paths. Residents have been advised to stock essentials and medicines.

The India Meteorological Department on Monday warned of “heavy to very heavy snowfall” in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand and issued a red-category warning for civic agencies and people in affected areas to be cautious, reported Hindustan Times.

The warning is due to a new “intense western disturbance” approaching the region, the weather department said.

“The arctic air outflow is dominating towards the south causing freezing temperatures in North America and parts of Europe,” said Charan Singh, a scientist at the Met department. “Further, mid-level westerlies are weakening, which causes an increased outflow from the Siberian High. This cold air is pushing towards tropical Asia including North India.”