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Favorable moisture conditions support on time start of winter wheat planting

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Afghanistan
  • November 15, 2018
Favorable moisture conditions support on time start of winter wheat planting

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  • Key Messages
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    Key Messages
    • The October 2018—May 2019 wet season is well underway with average to above-average precipitation and high-elevation snow in Afghanistan. Frequent precipitation since mid-October has created average to above-average moisture conditions that are favorable for on time winter wheat planting especially in north and northeastern Afghanistan.  

    • The onset of snow accumulation began earlier than normal in some areas, although, snow accumulation is mostly concentrated in the northeastern and central highlands.

    • With the increasing likelihood of a weak El Niño event, average to above-average precipitation is expected during the wet season of October 2018 through May 2019. However, cumulative precipitation totals will highly depend on the regional storm patterns associated with the weak El Niño event. Temperatures are expected to be above-average across the country, at least through the middle of the wet season (February 2019).


    Precipitation anomalies:

    The October 2018—May 2019 wet season started with frequent precipitation events, especially in northern and northeastern Afghanistan. During the period from October 1 through November 10, precipitation was average across northern and above-average in the northeastern provinces including Baghlan, Takhar, and Badakhshan (Figure 1). During this period a portion of these provinces received 25-50 mm of cumulative anomaly precipitation. The average to above-average precipitation in these provinces provides favorable moisture conditions for on time winter wheat planting in the region.

    Snowpack and snow water storage:

    Concurrent with the onset of the wet season in Afghanistan, snow accumulation began in the northeast and parts of the central highlands. Snow accumulation has been limited to high-elevations as October temperature remained above-average throughout the region. Snow depth anomalies show above average conditions over the northeastern mountains (Figure 2). While the snow water volumes already surpass the daily maximum snow water storage since 2002 in some northeastern basins (Figures 3 and 4), snow water storage has yet to begin in most of the other basins at this early stage of the season.      


    At the beginning of the winter wet season, maximum temperatures were well above-average throughout the country during late October. The onset of frequent precipitation coupled with above-average temperature provided favorable conditions for on time winter wheat planting. Temperatures were below-average during the first week of November across Afghanistan, including areas of lower elevation. This allowed for snow accumulation across much of Afghanistan. While early November temperatures are expected to be below-average, temperatures are expected to be above-average across the country in the coming months (November 2018—January 2019) (Figure 5).


    With the expectation of an El Niño event, precipitation in the coming months, November 2018 through January 2019, is expected to be above-average, especially in northeastern Afghanistan (Figure 6). Expected above-average precipitation may provide favourable conditions for snow water storage for the upcoming irrigation seasons.



    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    October 1, 2018—November 10, 2018 cumulative precipitation anomaly compared to the average of 1981—2010 precipitation

    Source: USGS/UCSB

    Figure 3

    Snow depth difference from average in mm on November 13, 2018 (2002—2016 average).

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 4

    Daily progression of snow water volume in a northern basin of Afghanistan.

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 5

    Daily progression of snow water volume in an eastern basin of Afghanistan

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 6

    Temperature forecast anomaly (November 2018—January 2019) over Afghanistan

    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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