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Rains in late March decreased precipitation deficits in northern areas and facilitated spring planting

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Afghanistan
  • April 2, 2020
Rains in late March decreased precipitation deficits in northern areas and facilitated spring planting

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  • Key Messages
  • UPDATE ON SEASONAL PROGRESS
  • Partner
    USGS
    Key Messages
    • Cumulative precipitation for October 1, 2019, to March 25, 2020, has been above average across most of Afghanistan. Precipitation deficits in northern and northeastern Afghanistan have decreased due to heavy precipitation in late March. Currently, precipitation deficits as large as 75 percent of normal are present in Kunduz, Takhar, and Badakhshan Provinces. These deficits are expected to continue to decrease due to the forecast for heavy precipitation in the coming two weeks.

    • Below-average snow depth anomalies persist at higher elevations in the central, northern, and northeastern parts of the country, while they are slightly above average in Bala Murghab Kushk, Balkhab, Helmand, and Kabul basins.  

    • Following a similar trend as snow depth, snow water volumes remain below average across most basins in the country, except in Helmand and Arghandab basins. Snow water volumes in the Khanabad, Kokcha-Ab_i_Rustaq, and Panj basins remain at record minimum levels.

    • The forecast heavy precipitation in the first two weeks of April is expected to result in largely favorable conditions for spring wheat planting in April. The forecast of average temperature and precipitation in the coming months is likely to support the normal growth of crops except in northern Afghanistan where precipitation deficits are expected to persist.   

    • Heavy precipitation in the third week of March has increased the flooding risk from moderate to high in downstream areas in the Farah_Adraskan, Helmand, and Arghandab basins; while there is a low to moderate risk of flooding in Bala Murghab_Kushk, Hari Rod, Shamal, and Kabul basins in the coming two weeks.


    UPDATE ON SEASONAL PROGRESS

    Precipitation anomalies:

    Since mid-January, abnormally dry conditions have led to below-average precipitation anomalies in far northern areas including areas of Balkh, Jawzjan, Kunduz, Takhar, Samangan, Baghlan, and Badakhshan Provinces. As of late March, precipitation deficits of 70 percent or larger of normal were centered over Kunduz, Takhar, and Badakhshan Provinces. Heavy precipitation during the third week of March lessened precipitation deficits in Jawzjan, Balkh, Samangan, and Baghlan provinces where small deficits remain. Cumulative precipitation deficits continue in Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces, while cumulative precipitation remains above average in the rest of the country (Figure 1).

    Snow depth and snow water volume:

    As of March 30, below-average snow depth anomalies are observed at higher elevations in the northeast while slightly above-average snow depths are present in parts of Bala Murghab Kushk, Balkhab, Helmand, and Kabul basins (Figure 2). The seasonal snowmelt is ongoing in most basins across the country. The above-average temperatures since February hindered the accumulation of snowpack across the country. As a result, the snow water volumes across most basins are below average while Helmand and Arghandab basins are at average levels as of March 30. The snow water volumes in Khanabad, Kokcha-Ab_i_Rustaq and Panj basins are currently at record minimum levels. Figure 3 shows average snow water volume in the Arghandab basin, below-average in the Hari Rod and Sari Pul basins, and record minimum levels in the Khanabad basin. The below-average snow water volumes are not expected to affect the first crop cultivation in the coming months; however, this will likely have negative impacts on second season crops and irrigated crops during the latter part of the growing season and second season crops.   

    FORECAST

    Precipitation:

    The Global Forecast System 7-day total precipitation forecast during the week ending April 7 indicates heavy precipitation (30-80 mm) in the eastern, northeastern, and northern is most likely. While in parts of central and western Afghanistan may receive 15-30 mm precipitation during the week ending April 7 (Figure 4). In the following week, ending April 14, heavy precipitation of 40-80 mm is forecast in the northeastern Afghanistan and 15-30 mm precipitation in the central highlands and parts of western Afghanistan.

    The anticipated heavy precipitation in the coming two weeks will reduce the precipitation deficits in the north, as well as increase reservoirs. The downstream areas of the Farah Adraskan, Khash_Khuspas, Helmand, and Arghandab basins are facing a moderate to high risk of flooding while the flooding risk is low to moderate in Bala Murghab_Kushk, Hari Rod, Ghazni, Shamal, and Kabul basins.

    The above-average precipitation forecast through mid-April is expected to support planting of spring, first season, crops as well as provide favorable soil moisture conditions.

    Temperatures:                                                     

    The North American Multi-Model Ensemble forecast for April to June continues to indicate a relatively high probability of above-average temperatures in most of the country (Figure 5). The combination of heavy precipitation in the coming weeks along with the forecast of average temperatures will be beneficial for the healthy growth of crops and pastures in the coming months.  

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 3

    Figure 3

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 4

    Figure 4

    Source: NOAA CPC

    Figure 5

    Figure 5

    Source: NOAA CPC

    FEWS NET’s Seasonal Monitor reports are produced for Central America and the Caribbean, West Africa, East Africa, Central Asia, and Somalia every 10-to-30 days during the region’s respective rainy season(s). Seasonal Monitors report updates on weather events (e.g., rainfall patterns) and associated impacts on ground conditions (e.g., cropping conditions, pasture and water availability), as well as the short-term rainfall forecast. Find more remote sensing information here.

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