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Above-average April precipitation benefits crops and pastures, however reservoir levels may not be adequate to support irrigation of all summer crops.

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Afghanistan
  • May 1, 2024
Above-average April precipitation benefits crops and pastures, however reservoir levels may not be adequate to support irrigation of all summer crops.

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  • Key Messages
  • Update on Seasonal Progress
  • Forecast
  • Partner
    USGS

    Key Messages
    • Well-distributed precipitation in April has reduced the seasonal precipitation deficits in different parts of the country. Currently, seasonal precipitation totals are 90-125 percent of the 40-year average across most of the country and 75-90 percent of average in Badakhshan in the northeast and Farah in the west (Figure 1).
    • As of April 29, 2024, snowpack continues to be below average across most of the country. However, above-normal snowpack conditions were observed in parts of Kabul (Indus), Sari Pul, and Balkhab basins (Figure 2). Snow water volumes are normal to above normal in most northern and southern basins due to well-distributed precipitation since the beginning of April. In eastern and southern basins, snow water levels are below normal and at or near record minimum levels in the northeast. (Figures 3a-3d).
    • Above-average precipitation is forecast for May to July 2024, which may improve snow water volumes in the Kabul (Indus), Kunduz, Khanabad, Kokcha Ab-i-Rustaq, and Panj basins (Figure 4). ECMWF precipitation forecasts for four weeks, from April 22 to May 20, 2024, favor mostly average to above-average precipitation across the country (Figure 5). The prospects of above-average precipitation in the coming weeks will not only help maintain favorable soil moisture conditions in rainfed croplands and pastures but also help replenish groundwater in areas that have faced three consecutive years of hydrological drought conditions.
    • As per key informants and the latest disaster reports, widespread precipitation in April has led to floods in Badghis, Uruzgan, Farah, Paktya, Zabul, Helmand, Kunar, Kabul, Badakhshan, Ghor, Kandahar, Takhar, Parwan, Herat, Ghazni, Laghman, Nimroz, and Sar-e-Pul. The floods have resulted in the loss of human life and livestock, damage to houses and infrastructure, and the loss of crops. The forecast of above-average precipitation in the coming two weeks and saturated soils will most likely increase the flood risk in the country's flood-prone areas. The risk of landslides is most likely in hilly or mountainous regions coupled with saturated soils, especially in the landslide-prone regions in central parts of the country. 
    • Air temperatures in the hottest 20 percent of the historical record are forecast to be two to three times more likely than average during late spring and early summer (Figure 6). Above-average temperatures, wet soils, and humidity may make some wheat highly susceptible to rust during flowering and maturity stages, especially in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country. 
    • El Niño is expected to transition to ENSO-neutral in April-June and persist into June-August 2024. La Niña will become increasingly probable from July to September 2024, with odds increasing to about 85 percent likelihood by October-December 2024.

    Update on Seasonal Progress

    Current conditions

    As per key informants, Afghanistan received average to above-average precipitation in April, except in parts of Badakhshan in the northeast and Farah in the west. Soil moisture conditions have improved across the country, and farmers have not reported any instances of crops being subjected to moisture stress. However, key informants report there is a likelihood of a 10-14 day delay in the harvest of early sown wheat due to excess moisture in April.

    Additionally, the average to above-average precipitation has led to a slight increase in reservoir levels, which is likely to benefit the planting of summer crops (rice, maize, barley, millet, beans, etc.) in June-July. However, the average to above-average precipitation has also led to flooding in Badghis, Uruzgan, Farah, Paktya, Zabul, Helmand, Kunar, Kabul, Badakhshan, Ghor, Kandahar, Takhar, Parwan, Herat, Ghazni, Laghman, Nimroz, and Sar-e-Pul, with local and international agencies reporting on the loss of human life and livestock, damage to houses and infrastructure, and the loss of agricultural croplands.

    Precipitation

    The 2023-24 winter wet season in Afghanistan began with average cumulative precipitation in the central highlands, western and southern parts, while the northern, northeastern, central, and southeastern areas registered below-average cumulative precipitation by the end of mid-December 2023. Below-average cumulative precipitation anomalies persisted across the country through mid-February when most regions registered less than 70 percent of normal precipitation. However, the precipitation deficits have been declining since mid-February 2024, as average to above-average precipitation was received, except in isolated parts in the Badakhshan (northeast) and Farah (west). As of April 25, most of the country has recorded average to above average (90-125 percent of the 40-year mean) since October 1, 2023, but in Badakhshan and Farah, cumulative precipitation is 60-90 percent of average (Figure 1)

    In the coming months, there is an increased likelihood of locust infestation in croplands and pastures in the northern and northeastern provinces. As per key informants, yellow rust and locust infestations have already been reported in Herat province.

    Figure 1

    CHIRPS season precipitation percent of average
    Percent of average precipitation showing primarily average conditions with slight negative anomalies in northeast and positive in the central and south

    October 1, 2023 – April 25, 2024

    Source: UCSB CHC

    Snow water equivalent and volume

    Snowpack development has been below-average over higher elevations throughout the 2023-24 season, even though the average to above-average precipitation in March and April improved snowpack in central Afghanistan (Figure 2). Snow water volumes were at or near record minimums in mid-February in almost all basins; however, snow water volumes have improved gradually with the average to above-average precipitation since March. As of 29 April, snow water volumes are at average or above-average levels in Kunduz, Balkhab, Sar-i-Pul, Bala Murghab Kushk, Hari Rod (Figure 3a), and Helmand (Figure 3b); around 50 percent of average or more in Arghandab, Khulm, and Kabul basins (Figure 3c); near or at record minimum levels in Khanabad, Kokcha-Ab_i_Rustaq, and Panj basins (Figure 3d)

    According to key informants, the average to above-average snow water volumes in some basins may replenish reservoirs enough to support the planting of second season crops; however, snow water volumes may not be sufficient to meet the irrigation water needs through the end of August-September. Most downstream reaches served by the reservoirs and canals will likely face irrigation water shortages later during summer in the country. 

    Figure 2

    Daily snow water equivalent difference anomaly relative to the average (2001-2022) in mm
    snow water equivalent anomaly showing above average in central highlands and below average in the northeast

    As of April 29, 2024

    Source: USGS EROS

    Figure 3

    Figure 3a. Current seasonal snow water volume level (dark blue line), 2022-23 (green), and historical average (blue dotted line) as a function of time in Hari Rod (west)
    snow water volume in Hari Rod basin

    As of April 29, 2024

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 3b. Current seasonal snow water volume level (dark blue line), 2022-23 (green), and historical average (blue dotted line) as a function of time in Helmand basin (south)
    snow water volume chart for Helmand basin

    As of April 29, 2024

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 3c. Current seasonal snow water volume level (dark blue line), 2022-23 (green), and historical average (blue dotted line) as a function of time in Kabul basin (east)
    snow water volume Kabul_Indus

    As of April 29, 2024

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 3d. Current seasonal snow water volume level (dark blue line), 2022-23 (green), and historical average (blue dotted line) as a function of time in Panj (northeastern)
    snow water volume Panj basin

    As of April 29, 2024

    Source: USGS/NASA


    Forecast

    Precipitation

    There is a high likelihood of above-average precipitation from May through July 2024 (Figure 4). ECMWF weekly precipitation forecasts from April 22, 2024, through May 22, 2024, favor mostly average to above-average precipitation (Figure 5). According to key informants, farmers are hoping for an extension of favorable soil conditions for planting summer crops in May and June 2024. However, there is an increased likelihood of floods and landslides in the coming months in the hilly or mountainous areas of the eastern and northeastern regions due to the forecast of above-average precipitation.

    Figure 4

    Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) multi-system seasonal precipitation forecast probabilities for May through July 2024 as of April 1, 2024
    May-July precipitation forecast showing above average for Afghanistan

    Source: Copernicus Climate Change Service

    Figure 5

    Weekly mean precipitation forecasts made for April 22 – 29, April 29 – May 6, May 6 -13, and May 13 - 20, 2024 made on April 22, 2024
    weekly precipitation forecast through 20 May showing average to above-average each week

    As of April 22, 2024

    Source: ECMWF Forecast System

    Temperature

    There is a high probability of above-average air temperatures across the country from April to June 2024 (Figure 6). Air temperatures in the hottest 20 percent of the historical record are expected to be two to three times more likely than normal during the above period. The hot air temperatures will likely drive high evapotranspiration rates during the dry August-September period, which could negatively impact rangeland vegetation and second-season crops.

    Figure 6

    Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) temperature forecast for May through July 2024
    May-July temperature probability showing likelihood of temperatures being in the top 20 percent of climatology

    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.

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