Unusual July throws up water challenge
By: Intikhab Hanif
LAHORE: Dismally low monsoon rains in July and little hope of any improvement in August is likely to create water shortage in the country, threatening kharif crops mainly cotton and rice. The Pakistan Meteorological Department had forecast five to 15 per cent above normal monsoon rains from July to September, also indicating less rain in August due to El-Nino factor.
According to its data on Tuesday, rain had been dismally low in July that is considered to be the most active monsoon month. The most worrying factor is that it has been very low in the heavy rain cities like Islamabad, Murree and Lahore.
Islamabad airport received 145.1mm of rain as against its normal rainfall of 305.3mm. Islamabad Zero Point’s normal rainfall is 343.2mm but it received only 162mm. The condition in Jhelum remained better as it received 215.5mm of rain as against its normal 263.2mm.
Lahore airport’s normal rainfall is 217.9mm but it received just 53.5mm. The normal rainfall in the main city (Jail Road Observatory) is 212.1mm but it received 39.6mm. Many localities are yet to witness even a drizzle. Murree which is a heavy rain hill station received only 129.2mm of rain as against it normal 364.1mm. Sialkot is also a heavy rain city with a normal rainfall of 304mm but it received 253mm at Cantonment and just 157.3 at the airport. The figure of the Cantonment station improved owing to 128mm of downpour on July 26.
In Kashmir, Kotli was the only place which received good rain. It received 263mm as against its normal 285.8mm. But rain was very low in Muzaffarabad. It received just 163.4mm as against normal 359.4mm. Balakot’s normal rainfall is 372mm but it received just 117mm. Kakul’s rainfall was 137mm as against its normal 263.6mm.
Weather pundits attribute the low rain in the country to the weak monsoon current. Northern India too received 37 per cent less rain in July, a meteorologist said.
But so far as agriculturists are concerned, they are worried about their kharif crops, cotton in the south and central Punjab and rice in the central Punjab because of the low rains. And remote chances of filling up of dams that provide water to the fields after the culmination of the monsoon in September are adding to their worries.
The Met office on Tuesday forecast isolated thundershowers over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir, upper Punjab, Bahawalpur division and southeast Sindh in the next 24 hours. It also expects scattered thundershowers with isolated heavy falls over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir and North and Northeast Punjab after 48 hours.
But despite the forecast, some weather experts did not see any cover up at least in the first half of August. Meanwhile, it remained partly cloudy in Lahore. It drizzled around the airport. The maximum temperature was 37.4 degrees Celsius and the minimum 26 degrees Celsius, with 81 per cent humidity in the morning and 60 per cent in the evening.
The Met office reported that Kotli received 46mm of rain, Saidu Sharif (22mm), Murree and Parachinar (20mm each), Kakul (17mm), Sialkot Cantt (15mm), Islamabad Zero Point (9mm), Jhelum (6mm) and Balakot (5mm).