Seasonal Monitor

Below average water availability in most Afghanistan basins at the beginning of spring wet season

March 11, 2020

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.
Partners: 
USGS

Key Messages

  • Cumulative precipitation, as of March 5, in the areas bordering Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan continues to be about 75 percent of normal while above-average precipitation conditions persist in the rest of the country.

  • Snowpack is currently below average over higher elevations in the central, eastern, and northeastern parts of the country. Snow water volumes are currently below average in most basins across the country while they are at average levels in the Helmand and Arghandab basins. Snow water volumes in the Sari Pul, Balkhab, Khulm, Kunduz, Khanabad, Kokcha-Ab_i_Rustaq, and Panj basins are very close to or at record minimum levels. Snow water volumes are below average due to below-average snowfall in northern areas or the early spring melt, which occurred in early March.

  • The above-average precipitation in the first week of March and forecast for heavy precipitation in the coming weeks will likely result in favorable spring wheat planting conditions. The below-average snow water volume will likely lead to some adverse impacts on water availability for irrigation, although crop development in the coming months is not expected to be adversely affected. On the other hand, second season crops, which are primarily irrigated, may be somewhat affected.

  • Above-average temperatures were observed across the entire country in February. The forecasted above-average temperatures in the coming weeks may continue to accelerate earlier than normal snowmelt.  

UPDATE ON SEASONAL PROGRESS

Precipitation anomalies:

Despite heavy precipitation in most parts of the country in the first week of March, below-average cumulative precipitation anomalies for October 1, 2019 to March 5, 2020 persist in Jawzjan, Balkh, Kunduz, Takhar, Samangan, and Badakhshan Provinces. The precipitation deficits are centered on Kunduz, where rainfall deficits are nearly 70 percent of normal extending, eastwards towards Badakhshan and westwards to Jawzjan. Cumulative precipitation remained average to above average in the rest of the country (Figure 1).

Snow depth and snow water volume:

As of March 9, below-average snow depth anomalies emerged in some basins at higher elevations in the country, while slightly above average snow depths are present in the middle and lower elevations of central and southern Afghanistan (Figure 2). Below-average precipitation and above-average temperature conditions in February led to the rapid depletion in snow water volumes across most basins in Afghanistan. Currently, the snow water volumes across most basins in Afghanistan are below average except in the Helmand and Arghandab basins. The snow water volumes in Khanabad and Kokcha-Ab_i_Rustaq basins are currently at record minimum levels. Figure 3 highlights average snow water volume in the Arghandab basin, below average in the Hari Rod and Sari Pul basins, and a record minimum level in the Khanabad basin as of March 9. The below-average snow water volumes will most likely not impact spring wheat planting activities and wheat crop development over the next few months. The deficits do not bode well for second season cultivation during the latter part of the season; the water availability for irrigation is expected to be below average. This is mostly due to the early season snowmelt in larger basins.    

FORECAST

Precipitation:

According to the Global Forecast System 7-day total precipitation forecast, 40-80 mm of heavy precipitation is expected in southeastern Afghanistan while 20 to 30 mm light precipitation is forecast in the eastern and central parts of the country during the week ending March 17 (Figure 4). The eastern, central, southern and parts of northern Afghanistan are expected to further receive 40 to 100 mm heavy precipitation during the week ending March 24.

The anticipated heavy precipitation in the coming weeks is expected to reduce the precipitation deficits in the north as well as lead to the recovery of the snow water volumes to some extent in various basins across the country. The forecast precipitation is likely to support planting of spring wheat in the northern provinces.

The forecast of above-average precipitation in the coming weeks in the eastern, central, and southern basins have the potential for flood incidence given the forecast heavy precipitation and above-average temperature conditions.

Temperatures:

The North American Multi-Model Ensemble forecast for April-June continues to indicate a relatively high probability of above-average temperatures in most of the country (Figure 5). The forecast of persistent above average temperature and average precipitation conditions may support healthy germination and rapid vegetative growth of crops and pastures during the first part of the agricultural season. On the other hand, above-average temperatures may accelerate the snowmelt sooner than normal which in turn may lead to irrigation water shortages affecting second crop cultivation, especially in the downstream areas.

 

About this Report

The seasonal monitor, produced by the FEWS NET USGS regional scientist and FEWS NET Regional Technical Manager, updates rainfall totals, the impact on production, and the short-term forecast. It is produced every 20 days during the production season. Find more remote sensing information here.

 

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on approximately 30 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, USGS, and CHC-UCSB, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica.
Learn more About Us.

Link to United States Agency for International Development (USAID)Link to the United States Geological Survey's (USGS) FEWS NET Data PortalLink to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Link to National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Earth ObservatoryLink to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service, Climage Prediction CenterLink to the Climate Hazards Center - UC Santa BarbaraLink to KimetricaLink to Chemonics