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Historically wet Spring resulted in flooding in many provinces

  • Seasonal Monitor
  • Afghanistan
  • May 24, 2024
Historically wet Spring resulted in flooding in many provinces

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  • Key Messages
  • Update on Seasonal Progress
  • Forecast
  • Partner
    USGS
    Key Messages
    • Heavy precipitation in April through mid-May has reduced seasonal precipitation deficits across much of the country. Currently, seasonal precipitation totals are 110-125 percent of the 40-year average across southern and southeastern areas, while a mix of average to below-average precipitation conditions (75-110 percent of the 40-year average) are distributed elsewhere (Figure 1).
    • As of May 20, 2024, snowpack remains mainly in the northeast, and most of that is below average (Figures 2 and 3a). The snowmelt season is complete in the western and southwestern regions, as exemplified by Hari Rod and Helmand basins (Figures 3b and 3c). Above-normal snowpack conditions exist in some parts of Bamiyan (central highlands), Baghlan (north), Parwan and Panjsher (central), and Nuristan (east) (Figure 2). Snow water level of the Kabul basin is only slightly below normal (Figure 3d)
    • Above-average precipitation is forecast for June to August 2024 across southeast Afghanistan (Figure 4), which will favor continued replenishment of surface and groundwater resources in the country after three consecutive years of hydrological drought. However, ECMWF precipitation forecasts for May 27 to June 10, 2024, favor mostly average to below-average precipitation across the country from June 19 through June 27, 2024 (Figure 5). Drier weather in the coming weeks may facilitate favorable soil moisture conditions for planting rice, maize, and vegetables, while above-average precipitation could further delay second-season crop activities.
    • Normally, wheat harvest commences from the second week of April in the southeastern and southern parts of the country. As per key informants, the wheat harvest has been delayed by 2-3 weeks due to the widespread precipitation since April and the consequent saturated soils in different parts of the country. There are reports that the wheat harvest has begun in southern, eastern, and southeastern parts of the country. 
    • Upper quintile air temperatures during late Spring and early summer are forecast to be three times more likely than historically in the period 1993-2016 (Figure 6). Above-average temperatures, wet soils, and humidity may make some wheat highly susceptible to rust in areas of the country where late-sown wheat is in the flowering and maturity stages.  
    • ENSO-neutral conditions are expected to rapidly transition from May-July 2024 to La Niña conditions in August-October 2024 (about 75 percent likelihood). La Niña conditions are expected to persist from November 2024 through February 2025 (about 85 percent likelihood).

    Update on Seasonal Progress

    Current conditions

    As per key informants, Afghanistan received average to above-average precipitation from April till mid-May, except in parts of Badakhshan in the northeast, Farah in the west, and Ghor and Bamiyan in the central parts of the country. Additionally, key informants report that the wheat harvest is beginning in the southeastern and eastern regions.

    Precipitation

    As of May 31, southern and southeastern parts of the country are likely to receive above-average cumulative precipitation (110-150 percent of the 40-year average), while a mix of average to below-average cumulative precipitation (75 to 110 percent of the 40-year average) conditions are expected elsewhere (Figure 1)

    Figure 1

    CHIRPS season precipitation percent of average
    Percent of average seasonal precipitation for Oct 1 - May 31

    October 1, 2023 – May 31, 2024                                                                                                          

    Source: UCSB CHC

    Snow depth and snow water volume

    Snowpack development has been below-average over higher elevations throughout the 2023/24 season, even though the average to above-average precipitation in April through mid-May improved snowpack in some parts of eastern and central Afghanistan (Figure 2)

    Figure 2

    Daily snow water equivalent difference anomaly relative to the average (2001-2022) in mm
    Snow Water Equivalent map showing snow limited to the northeast and generally below normal

    As of May 20, 2024

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Snow water volumes remain below average in Khanabad, Kokcha_Ab-i-Rustaq, and Panj basins in the northeast (Figure 3a) as of the reporting date. Snow water volumes in Balkhab, Sari Pul, Khulm, Shirin Tagab, Bala Murghab_Kushk, Hari Rod (Figure 3b), Farah_Adraskan, Khash_Khuspas, Helmand (Figure 3c), Arghandab, Ghazni, and Shamal basins are at near zero levels as they have reached the end of their respective seasonal cycles. Snow water volumes are above average in the Kunduz basin and near-average levels in the Kabul basin (Figure 3d) due to above-average precipitation through mid-May. 

    According to key informants, the average to above-average snow water volumes in some basins in the country may replenish reservoirs enough to support the planting of second 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 3

    Figure 3a. Current seasonal snow water volume level (solid blue line) and historical average (blue dotted line) as a function of time in Panj (northeastern)
    Snow water volume chart for Panj province

    As of May 17, 2024                                                                                                                         

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 3b. Current seasonal snow water volume level (solid blue line) and historical average (blue dotted line) as a function of time in Hari Rod (west)
    Snow water volume chart for Hari Rod province

    As of May 17, 2024                                                                                                                         

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 3c. Current seasonal snow water volume level (solid blue line) and historical average (blue dotted line) as a function of time in Helmand basin (south)
    Snow water volume chart for Helmand province

    As of May 17, 2024                                                                                                                         

    Source: USGS/NASA

    Figure 3d. Current seasonal snow water volume level (solid blue line) and historical average (blue dotted line) as a function of time in Kabul basin (east)
    Snow water volume chart for Kabul-Indus province

    As of May 17, 2024                                                                                                                         

    Source: USGS/NASA


    Forecast

    There is a high likelihood of above-average precipitation across the country from June through August 2024 (Figure 4). 

    Figure 4

    Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) multi-system seasonal precipitation forecast probabilities for June through August 2024 as of May 1, 2024
    Precipitation forecast for June-August 2024 showing above average likely

    Source: Copernicus Climate Change Service

    ECMWF weekly precipitation forecasts from May 20, 2024, through June 10, 2024, favor mostly below-average precipitation (Figure 5 a-c). During the following week (June 10-17, 2024), average precipitation is likely, except for below-average precipitation in some western areas (Figure 5d). According to key informants, the anticipated dry weather conditions may provide favorable soil conditions for planting summer crops in the coming months, avoiding further delays.

    Figure 5

    Weekly average precipitation forecasts spanning May 27 to June 24, 2024, as of May 22nd for four periods: May 27 – June 3, June 3 – 10, June 10 – 17, and June 17 – 24.
    Weekly precipitation forecast maps for May 27 - June 24, 2024

    As of May 22, 2024                                                                                                      

    Source: ECMWF Forecast System

    Temperature

    There is a high probability of above-average air temperatures throughout the country from June to August 2024 (Figure 6). Above-average temperatures, in the hottest 20 percent of the historical record, are predicted to be three times more likely than normal (compared to 1993-2016) during June-October. The above-average temperatures will likely induce high evapotranspiration rates and, together with the anticipated below-average precipitation during the dry months, could negatively impact rangeland vegetation and second-season crops.

    Figure 6

    Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) temperature forecast for June through August 2024 as of May 1, 2024
    C3S temperature forecast map for June - August, 2024 showing above average likely

    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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