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LAHORE: There could be three to four fresh spells of rain and snowfall in the country this month (March), according to the Pakistan Meteorological Depart­ment’s forecast, but they are unlikely to enhance the amount of water available in major reservoirs, thus aggravating the current water stress.

The moderate drought-like conditions prevalent over south-west Balochis­tan might be aggravated to a severe level, while the existing mild drought conditions over Tharparker may worsen to moderate level due to less rainfall in March, the Pakistan Meteorological Depart­ment warned on Thursday.

The monthly forecast was announced as a westerly wave brought light rainfall over upper parts of the country and some Punjab cities, including Lahore, and dropped the steadily rising temperature a little. Lahore’s maximum temperature dropped from 27 degrees Celsius on Wednesday to 23 degrees due to a light drizzle early in the morning and cloud cover later.

The amount of winter rain and snowfall in Pakistan has been on the decline for some time, causing a water shortage in dams and affecting crops. The temperature, on average, has also been above normal in the country’s plains, especially in February. Meteorologists attribute the low rain phenomenon to changing environmental conditions caused by global warming.

In its latest forecast, the Met department has said that upper parts of the country, including upper Punjab, Fata, KP, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir are likely to receive slightly above normal rain with snowfall over hilly areas in March.

The lower half of the country may receive below-normal to normal rainfall during this month. A total of three to four short wet spells are expected over the upper parts of the country, accompanied with thunderstorm, gusty winds and a high risk of hailstorm.

The average temperatures across the country are likely to be slightly above normal this month. A westerly wave brought 26mm of rain to Quetta, 17mm rain to Ziarat, 12mm rain to Kalat, while light drizzle was reported from Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh, Sargodha, Joharabad and Lahore.

The Met department said that the westerly wave would continue for another two days, and was expected to produce rain-thunderstorm (snowfall over the hills) with gusty winds at scattered places in upper Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Islam­abad, upper Punjab (Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Sargodha, Faisal­abad divisions), Fata, Kash­­mir and Gilgit-Baltis­tan, and at isolated locations in Kohat and Bannu divisions in the next 24 hours.

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2018