LAHORE: Denying any scare about possible strong “thunderstorm, rain and hailstorms during the next three days,” the Punjab Met officials on Wednesday said that there was nothing to be “over cautious, leave alone scared” as it would be a routine “wet weather with gusty winds” during next 72 hours.

Talking to Dawn, they said rain-producing system would enter Pakistan on Thursday afternoon and is expected to produce “light to moderate” rain in upper parts of the country on Friday. It may also snow at high altitudes and hailstorms at lower ones.

On Friday, there may however be some hailstorms and gusty winds in some parts of upper regions of the country. The system would extend to southern parts in next 24 hours, covering central parts of Punjab and sporadic areas of the southern parts of the province. The system will start weakening by Friday evening and move on by Saturday.

A scare was created throughout the country when a letter from the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) went viral on Tuesday, which had advised all federal and provincial departments to stay vigilant, ensure availability of staff during emergency, update the NDMA twice a day and told them to issue instruction to allied department in the light of this “weather alert.”

The “weather alert” created an alarm, especially on the social media as if something extraordinary is going to happen on Friday and Saturday. However, the provincial chief Disaster Management Authority says there is nothing to worry about.

Talking to Dawn, he said the letter was more of a routine instruction to allied departments. It was meant to convey message, which is statutory obligation and not to create any alarm. “Things got blown out of proportion for no reason. It was more of routine information sharing, which the department does as a part of duty. If someone is travelling, he/she needs to know weather conditions, which were given.”

These departmental assurances, however, failed to assuage farmers fear because of wheat crop, which is at the crucial stage of development and may get affected by strong winds. The gusty winds when accompanied by rain and hailstorm could easily flatten the crop, especially in those areas (like Pothohar region), where winds would reportedly be stronger and crop reaching the maturity stage.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2020