PESHAWAR, Jan 23: Peshawar and its surrounding areas are likely to have a longer and harsher winter this year as a result the next summer is expected to set in later than usual, according to experts.

The average nighttime temperature (minimum temperature) recorded during the first 21 days of the current month reflected a drop by about 2 degree centigrade as compared to normal, showing a major shift in the weather pattern this winter.

“We are likely to have three to five cold spells this year in an escape from a normal year when Peshawar usually experiences two to three cold spells,” said Syed Mushtaq Ali Shah, regional director, Pakistan Meteorological Department, Peshawar.Peshawar recorded an average nighttime temperature of 2.13 degree centigrade this January as per the data compiled during the first three weeks of the current month. This reflects a substantial decline when compared with the city’s normal average minimum temperature of 4.1 Celsius. The average normal temperature has been arrived at by assessing a dataset spanning over a 35 year period, according to a Met official.

The director said that winter in Peshawar was expected to last till the end of March this year, stretching by over a month than its usual end date. In a normal year, Peshawar’s winter recedes by mid February, according to Mr Shah.

He, however, said the shift in weather pattern this year was not an extraordinary phenomenon to a larger extent. It had resulted because of global climatic conditions and cyclic changes in Atlantic, Pacific and South Pacific oceans, and Arabian Sea, he added.

Besides, according to Mr Shah, the Tibetan High (atmospheric pressure system) and Siberian High (atmospheric pressure system) are on the North and North-West of Pakistan this year, resulting in the current drop in minimum temperature this winter.

“This weather cycle takes place after every 7 to 10 years, which is nothing unusual to this extent,” said the Met expert.

The unusual, however, was the sharp drop in Peshawar’s maximum temperature (daytime temperature) in the first week of January this year when the mercury touched down to a level that has happened on three occasions during the past 35 years.

According to the Met Office data, Peshawar has an average daytime temperature of 18.5 Celsius for January, which the city maintained this year, too, except for dipping down to 8.2 Celsius on January 7 last.

Similarly, an unusual drop in rainfall has also been recorded this year in January. “We were expecting higher than usual rainfall this year in Peshawar, but that has not been the case and this needs to be studied later,” said the meteorologist.In a normal year, Peshawar, according to the officially compiled data, receives around 30.8 mm rain in January every year.

However, this year, the city recorded only 3 mm rain during the first 22 days of the current month, showing a major decline as compared to the normal rains in January. As per the Met department forecast, Peshawar is not expected to receive rain during the remaining January days.

“The current dry spell is expected to continue well into February,” said the official, adding that shortfall in the rainfall and snowfall was expected to subside next month when Peshawar and its surrounding areas were expected to receive major rainfall and higher regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were likely to be hit by snowfall.

“Resultantly, we will have a delayed summer this year and delayed snow melting in the mountainous regions of the country,” said the official.

The delayed snow melting, if coincided with monsoon rains, added the official in reply to a question, could pose risks of floods in some parts of the province. “It may not happen because it is fast becoming difficult to predict the future weather patterns owing to changing global climatic conditions,” said the expert.

He, however, said the Met Office needed to study the current decline in rainfall after Peshawar and other parts of the province received more than normal rains in December last year. The provincial capital, according to the official data, received a total of 77.5 mm rain in December last, which is higher than Peshawar’s average 16.9 mm rain for December based on the 35 year rain data.

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