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ISLAMABAD: With continental air prevailing over most parts of the country, the Meteorological Department of Pakistan on Sunday forecast that the current spell of hot and dry weather would continue for the next four to five days in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab.

According to a Met Office advisory, the current spell of heatwave in Sindh coming from the north-western side (Balochistan) for the past couple of days is likely to prevail until Thursday.

On Sunday, Mithi with 45 degrees Celsius remained the hottest place in the country, while Karachi and Sibi sizzled at 44ºC. Similarly, the maximum temperature in D.G. Khan, Faisalabad, Lahore and Bahawalpur divisions of Punjab ranged between 38ºC and 41ºC.

However, weather in Malakand division, Hazara, Peshawar, some parts of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Kashmir remained pleasant with thundershowers. The meteorological department forecast showers with gusty winds and drizzle at isolated places in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, upper Fata, Gilgit and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

Extreme weather conditions to prevail in Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab till Thursday; Karachi and Sibi sizzle at 44ºC

In Karachi, the maximum temperature is likely to range between 40ºC and 43ºC during the next four to five days. The weather advisory says the port city will not experience sea breeze during this period as wind from northwest is expected to prevail over the region.

According to the forecast, the maximum temperature in Mithi, where 45ºC was recorded on Sunday, will go up further and may touch 48ºC by Thursday. Several other parts of the Sindh province, including Moenjodaro, Mirpurkhas, Shaheed Benazirabad and Badin, are likely to brave 43°C.

Extreme heatwaves such as the one presently hitting various

cities and towns are frequently cited as one of the most direct effects of global warming-induced climate change, said spokesperson for climate change ministry Mohammad Saleem.

The official said Pakistan was most likely to suffer more frequent and intense heatwaves as the average temperatures in the country were constantly on the rise. He said the World Meteorological Department’s reports showed that annual average temperature in the country had jumped up by roughly 0.5ºC, leading to a five-fold rise in number of heatwave days over the past 30 years.

“Spring season has shrunk from 45 days to less than 10 days. Winter is now down from 120 days to roughly 80 days, and warmer days have increased from 120 to 150, and beyond to 180 days in some cases,” said Mr Saleem while speaking to Dawn.

“Such dangerously rising trends in temperatures will potentially continue to cast negative effects on human health, spike frequency and intensity levels of extreme weather events including heatwaves, cloudbursts, floods, glacial melt, agricultural productivity, water availability, coastal erosion and seawater incursion,” the official explained.

About Karachi climate, the official cited anthropogenic reasons behind frequent heatwaves or above normal temperatures. He said as carbon dioxide levels were extremely high in the port city the sea breeze failed to cool the concrete jungle. However, he said, “Extreme temperature early action system as being practised in Karachi has proven that they can save lives.

“By expanding early heatwave warning systems in heatwave-prone areas of the country, the authorities can boost their ability and preparedness to prevent a lot of suffering, illness, and deaths,” he said. The official also suggested measures such as solar reflective paint on buildings, rooftop gardens, improved access to drinking water and training medical personnel to prevent major losses during the extreme weather. He also underlined the need for implementing district-wise heatwave management plans comprising measures including uninterrupted power and water supply, proper healthcare facilities and establishment of roadside public shades.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2018