LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: The dense fog that has blanketed several parts of Punjab for the past few days is unlikely to continue beyond Sunday as an approaching westerly wave is expected to cause rain, as well as snowfall at scattered places, across the country over the next three days.
Fog may, however, return with more intensity in the latter part of next week, a weatherman said.
The northern parts of Pakistan are expected to receive above-normal rainfall during the current winter season due to weak El Nino conditions, according to a forecast by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. El Nino involves fluctuating ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific that influence the weather all over the world.
According to the Pakistan Met Office, a westerly wave, which is likely to approach western Pakistan on Sunday, may grip upper and central parts of the country on Monday. Under the influence of this weather system, rain (with snowfall over the hills) has been forecast in Malakand, Hazara, Mardan, Peshawar, Kohat, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sargodha, D.G. Khan, Quetta and Zhob divisions, besides Islamabad, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir, while the same weather has been forecast for isolated places in Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Multan, Sahiwal, Bahawalpur, Sukkur, Karachi and Makran divisions from Sunday evening till Tuesday.
Visibility drops to 20 metres in Kasur, Faisalabad
Snowfall over the hills is also expected in Malakand division (Swat, Chitral, Kalam, Malamjabba, upper Dir), Hazara division, Murree and Galliyat, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan on Monday and Tuesday.
The Met Office reported thick fog on Saturday at some places in the plains of Punjab, with the most affected being Kasur and Faisalabad where visibility dropped to 20 metres. Visibility was 50 metres in Narowal, 200 metres in Layyah and Gujranwala, 500 metres in Toba Tek Singh, 600 meters in Lahore and Multan, 700 metres in Dera Ghazi Khan and 800 metres in Sialkot.
The minimum temperature in Skardu was minus 8 degrees Celsius, in Astore, Hunza and Gupis -4°C, Kalam -2°C, Bagrote and Dir -1°C, while it was 1°C in Quetta, 4°C in Islamabad, 5°C in Peshawar, 2°C in Murree, 6.2°C in Lahore and 16°C in Karachi.
The ‘Asia-Pacific Impact Outlook’ for December 2018 to February 2019 issued by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) on Friday says that considering the warm ocean conditions prevailing in the Pacific, there is consensus that weak El Nino conditions are likely to develop and continue through the winter season.
The outlook forecast that above-normal rainfall is likely during the winter season till February 2019 over some areas of northern parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and some areas of north Myanmar. Normal to above-normal temperatures is likely to prevail over most parts of the region.
The forecast recommended that countries that are at risk from significant climate deviations during the next few months should assess local risk due to El Nino and other factors. Local assessment is important because the El Nino can affect locations and sectors differently. The prevailing climate and socio-economic conditions, which can also vary dramatically across locations, could either lessen or amplify the impacts, it says.
According to Pakistan Meteorological Department, the provinces of Sindh and Balochistan are already facing moderate to severe droughts based on the satellite and observation data analysis. Currently, 19 districts of Sindh and 11 districts of Balochistan are facing moderate to severe droughts. Below normal rainfall was recorded over most of the southern parts of the country as predicted by the Met department. Major rainfall deficit was experienced over Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan from June to November 2018. The rainfall deficit of 71.9 per cent was experienced in Sindh, 46.9 per cent in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and 44.2 per cent in Balochistan.
Currently Tarbela and Mangla dams are half-filled, which is lowest in the last nine years, according to the PMD.
Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2018