From Drought to Floods in South Asia

The all-important summer monsoon of South Asia has given weather and climate forecasters, as well as news reporters, a wild ride this year. In late June, Reuters hopefully reported that India’s crucial monsoon rains were “expected to be average in 2012, … helping to allay concern over farm output triggered by sparse rainfall in the last few weeks.” Such concerns, however, only deepened, and by late July, news sources were reporting that “with drought conditions prevailing in most parts of India, Monsoon 2012 is set to be the worst in the last 65 years.”  Heavy rains, however, reached many areas by late August; although some crops were already damaged, Reuters reported that “the [rain] revival has given the government a breathing space and allowed it to postpone a drought summit meeting to next week.” Slow on the uptake, The New York Times warned its readers on September 9 that the drought had brought much of India to the brink of disaster. At roughly the same time, precipitation intensified. On September 17, heavy rains resulted in 13 deaths in the state of Uttar Pradesh. All in all, India’s 2012 monsoon precipitation looks like it will be just slightly below average in most areas.

While recent late-monsoon downpours have bought much-needed moisture to northern India, their effects have not been so positive in much of neighboring Pakistan. According to a September 14 article in the Express Tribune, “flash floods triggered by torrential rains have rendered around one million people in Balochistan homeless over the past week, without any relief in sight.” A few days later, the same paper announced that the Pakistani government was largely ignoring the crisis in Balochistan and focusing its attention instead on neighboring Sindh, also hard hit by flooding. Resource-rich but restive Balochistan, critics contend, is often slighted by the Islamabad government.

(Look here for the precipitation map posted above)


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