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2022/23 wet season precipitation (October 1, 2022 – May 31, 2023) was below average across most of the country with localized areas of near-average precipitation in central, southern, and eastern parts of the country (Figure 1).
Vegetation in northern, western, central, and southwestern parts of the country continue to reflect below-average vegetation condition as of June 20, 2023 (Figure 2). This is mainly due to below-average precipitation during the 2022/23 wet season, below-average snow water volumes, earlier than normal snow melt, and below-normal soil moisture.
Snow water volume in Panj, Khanabad, Kokcha-Ab_i_Rustaq, and Kabul basins is below average and close to record minimums as of the reporting date, but better than last year (Figure 3). Snow water volumes in most other basins were closer to or at record minimum since late March.
The ECMWF precipitation forecast for June 19 – 26, 2023, indicates below-average precipitation except in the central and southern parts where there is no tilt towards either above- or below-average precipitation. During the week of June 26 – July 3, 2023, below-average precipitation is forecasted in localized areas in the northeast and southwest (Figure 4). It is also important to note that significant precipitation does not occur during this period.
As per the latest NOAA Advisory, the onset of El Niño is indicated with the expectation that it will gradually strengthen and persist into 2024 (94% chance).
Source: UCSB CHC
Source: USGS EROS
As per the key informants, below-average precipitation in the northern and western parts of the country during late April and May has resulted in moisture stress in irrigated and rainfed wheat that has not yet been harvested and in the rangelands. Based on reports from the field, the wheat production this year is expected to be below average. Second season cultivation is most likely to be adversely affected due to below-average water availability in different basins and over-use of groundwater for wheat cultivation in the recently concluded season.
At the conclusion of 2022-23 wet season, a northern area from Herat in the west to Kunduz in the east received precipitation between 60 to 75 percent of the average while precipitation deficits between 75 to 90 percent of the average persisted across most of the country. There are some localized areas with near-average precipitation as of the reporting date (Figure 1). Below-average precipitation after mid-April led to the development of moisture stress in the wheat cultivating areas in the northern, central, and western parts of the country as of the reporting date.
Snow depth and snow water volume
Below-normal snowpack development has been observed over higher elevations throughout 2022-23 season and above-average temperatures since mid-February have led to earlier-than-normal snowmelt in the northern, western, and southern basins. Currently, below-normal snow water volumes are seen in Khanabad, Kokcha_Ab-i-Rustaq, Panj, and Kabul basins are either below-average or close to record minimum as of June 16, 2023 (Figure 3) whereas the snow water volumes in other basins had already reached zero level by the end of April. Although current reservoir water availability is not as bad as last year, the over-use of groundwater for first crop cultivation together with below-average snow water volumes in the eastern basins may adversely affect the second crop cultivation in the country.
The ECMWF forecasts higher probability of below-average precipitation in the eastern, northeastern, central, southwestern parts of the country while there is no tilt towards above- or below average precipitation in the rest of the country during the week June 19 – 26, 2023, (Figure 4, left inset). During June 26 - July 3, 2023, below average precipitation may be expected in isolated pockets in northeast and southwest (Figure 4, right inset). Given below-average precipitation and hydrological drought conditions prevailing in the country, there is less than normal chance of widespread flooding although there is a chance of isolated flash floods due to earlier than normal peaking of snowmelt runoff in the eastern and northeastern basins in the country.
Source: ECMWF forecast system
The North American Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME, Figure 5) and Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S, Figure 6) forecasts for July – September, 2023 generated in June 2023 indicate high probability of above average temperatures across the country. Second crop cultivation and rangeland vegetation may be adversely affected during this period due to the combination of high temperatures and hydrological drought conditions for the third consecutive year.
Source: NOAA CPC
Source: Copernicus Climate Change Service
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.