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Widespread average to above-average precipitation will likely benefit upcoming cropping season

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Afghanistan
  • January 25, 2019
Widespread average to above-average precipitation will likely benefit upcoming cropping season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Afghanistan is moving into the main part of the winter wet season, with average conditions across much of the country.  Close attention should be given over the next few months, during the critical part of the season.

    • Early season precipitation across the higher elevations in the north and northeast has been above average, leading to strong early season precipitation anomalies and above-average snowpack at higher elevations.

    • Repeated, mild below-average rainfall performance across central and southeastern parts of the country has built to deficits exceeding 25mm across the region for the season. 

    • Global climate conditions indicate an increased likelihood of above average precipitation and temperatures over the next few for much of the region. Above average temperatures could lead to an earlier than normal spring snowmelt runoff season.


    Precipitation anomalies:

    Northern and northeastern parts of Afghanistan continue to maintain the positive anomalies built up over the October-to-present monitoring period (Figure 1). This is due to near average precipitation over much of the country during December and early January.  While these positive anomalies indicate strong early season precipitation performance, the critical part of the season is upcoming, and these positive anomalies can be quickly reversed. 

    Meanwhile, below average seasonal anomalies have emerged in south-central parts of the country. While relatively small in magnitude, these are the cumulative result of a number of moderately below-average pentads (Figure 3).  Zabul, and neighboring provinces should continue to be closely monitored to evaluate these deficits as the season moves into the primary growing season.

    Snowpack and snow water storage:

    The snowpack conditions closely mirror precipitation conditions, with generally above-average snow depth in the northern and northeastern highlands (Figure 2).  This is reflected in moderately above average conditions across all the basins in the north and northeastern highlands (Figure 4, shown with the snow water volume plot for the Indus basin).  The lower elevations of central Afghanistan have average to below average snow depth.  These patterns can be attributed to below average precipitation during the month of December, and more recent recovery from widespread precipitation in the northern two-thirds of the country in early to mid-January. 


    During December and early January, average to above-average temperatures persisted through much of Afghanistan (Figure 5).  There were a few exceptions in the northeastern and central highlands during the latter part of the month. We see generally above average temperature except for limited locations in the northeast during the latter two dekads. In the highlands the temperatures were still below freezing, meaning that melting of accumulated snow was limited, while warm temperatures hindered snow accumulation in the low to moderate elevation areas of Afghanistan.


    Early estimates for January 1-20, 2019 precipitation, which combine GEFS forecasts and CHIRPS Preliminary data, indicate anomalously wet conditions across the country that would add to existing surpluses in northern and northeastern areas and ameliorate season-to-date deficits in southern areas.

    The North American Multi-Model Ensemble shows there is agreement among models for above average February to April precipitation in southern areas (Figure 7). Forecasts also show increased probability of above average temperatures.  Forecasts for above average temperatures could lead to an increased likelihood of premature snowmelt and flood events over the region.




    Figure 1

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source: USGS/UCSB

    Figure 3

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 4

    Source: USGS

    Figure 5

    Source: USGS

    Figure 6

    Source: USGS

    Figure 7

    Source: UCSB

    Figure 8

    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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