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Despite mixed precipitation anomalies, below-average snowpack is seen across the country

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Afghanistan
  • February 1, 2021
Despite mixed precipitation anomalies, below-average snowpack is seen across the country

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  • Key Messages
  • UPDATE ON SEASONAL PROGRESS
  • FORECAST
  • Partner
    USGS

    Key Messages
    • As of January 25, normal to above-normal cumulative precipitation anomalies are seen in parts of the central, central highlands, and southeastern regions of the country Below-normal precipitation anomalies are observed in rest of the country.
    • Below-normal snow depth anomalies persist at higher elevations in the northeast and central highlands. At lower elevations, average snow depth is observed in western and northern parts of the country, while negative anomalies are seen in central, northeastern, eastern, and southeastern parts.
    • As of January 26, snow accumulation and snow water volumes are below normal in most basins across the country due to the prevailing deficit-precipitation conditions.
    • Above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation are expected from February through April due to the prevailing La Niña conditions. Below-average development of snowpack and, consequently, below-average snowmelt runoff is expected in the coming months, likely to reduce water available for irrigated crops. While the first crop cultivation in the upstream areas is not expected to be affected by below-average water availability, crops in the downstream areas are more at risk. For the second crop cultivation, reduced seasonal water availability is expected in the country. 
    • Given expectations for below-average snowpack development, the risk of flooding and landslides is expected to be less than usual. However, localized flooding is still possible because of storms during spring months.

    UPDATE ON SEASONAL PROGRESS

    Precipitation anomalies:

    Cumulative precipitation from October 1, 2020, through January 25, 2021, has been average to above-average in SariPul, Samangan, Baghlan, Bamiyan, Paktya, Panjsher, Parwan, and Khost provinces, while below-average precipitation has prevailed in the rest of the country (Figure 1). It is observed that below-average precipitation during January is leading to a steady increase in the precipitation deficits in the northern, southern, and southwestern parts of the country. As of January 25, cumulative precipitation deficits at the province level were worst in Farah, Nimroz, and Helmand (more than 50 percent below normal; though these areas typically receive lower rainfall amounts), followed by Badakhshan, Jawzjan, Kandahar, Laghman, Nangarhar, and Paktika (30 to 50 percent below normal).

    Snow depth and snow water volume:

    Precipitation deficits in January have led to below-average snow depths across most of the country (Figure 2). This along with above-average temperatures has led to below-average snow accumulation as of January in various basins across the country and even declining snow water volume in some basins. Figure 3 highlights the decline in snow water volumes in the Arghandab, Hari Rod, Kokcha_Ab-i-Rustaq, and Kunduz basins since the beginning of January.


    FORECAST

    Precipitation: 

    Figure 4 shows the Global Forecast System (GFS) 7-day and 14-day total precipitation forecasts ending February 4 (left panel) and February 11 (right panel). Dry weather conditions are expected to continue across the country through February 4. There is a 30 to 40 percent probability of more than 25 mm precipitation in the higher altitudes of the northeast while sporadic precipitation is expected in the northern, central, and southern parts of the country during the week ending February 11. The anticipated precipitation in the second week of February will not only improve the snow water volumes but will also be beneficial in the preparation of land for planting spring wheat.

    Temperatures:

    The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME) forecast for February-April with January initial conditions indicates relatively high probabilities of above-average temperatures across the country (Figure 5). The forecast of persistent above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation may lead to reduced snowpack development, earlier than usual snowmelt, and reduced water for second crop cultivation. The first crop cultivation, especially in the downstream areas, may be vulnerable to temperature and moisture stresses. Further, rainfed crop production and rangeland vegetation are likely to be affected by the below-average precipitation and above-average temperatures in the coming months.

    Figures This is a map of Afghanistan showing that precipitation of 70% of average or less has been received across much of the countr

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: USGS/UCSB

    This is a map of Afghanistan showing that below average snow depth has been recorded in many central highland areas.

    Figure 2

    Figure 2

    Source: USGS/NASA

    These are four graphs showing the daily progression of snow water volume in million cubic meters in Arghandab, Hari Rod, Kokc

    Figure 3

    Figure 3

    Source: USGS/NASA

    These are maps of Afghanistan showing white covering nearly all of the country in both maps, indicating a high probability of

    Figure 4

    Figure 4

    Source: NOAA CPC

    This map of Afghanistan shows orange and red colors covering all of the country, indicating a high probability for above aver

    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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