Seasonal Monitor

Above-average precipitation and soil moisture favor good crop and pasture conditions

February 26, 2019

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.
Partners: 
USGS

Key Messages

  • Due to continued weak El Niño conditions, abundant snow pack at higher elevations in the northeast and central highlands, and widespread precipitation across the country have been recorded (up to 3rd week of February 2019). 

  • Above-average precipitation this season has led snow water volumes to significantly exceed the corresponding long term average volumes in most of the basins in the country. While snow water volumes in Khanabad, Khokcha-Ab-I-Rustaq and Panj basins show long-term averages, the snow water volumes in the Arghandab, Bala Murghab Kushk, Balkhab, Farah-Adraskan, Ghazni, Hari Rod, Helmand, Kabul-Indus, Khash-Khushpas, Khulm, Kunduz, Sari Pul, Shamal and Shirin Taghab basins are far in excess of their long term averages.

  • The above-average rainfall and water availability conditions in river basins of the country will ensure healthy emergence and vegetative growth of winter wheat, especially in the major irrigated croplands in the coming months. Further the current abundance of water volumes in the winter snow pack is anticipated to be beneficial for irrigated wheat and second seasons.

  • It is important to note that higher temperatures in March-April period may accelerate snow melt runoff, which would contribute to flooding in basins that are already showing significantly high snow water volumes (e.g., Arghandab, Bala Murghab Kushk, Balkhab, Farah-Adraskan, Ghazni, Hari Rod, Helmand, Kabul-Indus, Khash-Khushpas, Khulm, Kunduz, Sari Pul, Shamal and Shirin Taghab basins). The above regions need to be monitored for probable flood risks in the coming months.

UPDATE ON SEASONAL PROGRESS

Precipitation anomalies:

Figure 1 indicates the spatial variability of the cumulative rainfall (October 1, 2018 through February 20, 2019) received in Afghanistan, expressed as percent of normal. As of February 20 most provinces had received rainfall ranging from 115 percent to nearly 150 percent of the long term average (except in southwest provinces of Farah, Helmand, Kandahar and Nimroz).

Figure 2 depicts the progression of cumulative rainfall (October 1, 2018 through February 20, 2019) in Baghlan province in northern Afghanistan. Based on CHIRPSv2.0 data, it is seen that the cumulative rainfall from October through December not only tracked the 30-year maximum but the cumulative rainfall from January 2019 to date has exceeded the 30-year maximum cumulative rainfall (maxima) indicating wettest season on record for this period.

The above-average moisture conditions prevalent in most parts of the country observed to date indicates sufficient water availability for irrigated winter wheat. In addition, the existing abundant moisture availability is highly beneficial for sowings of spring wheat.

Snowpack and snow water storage:

Figure 3 depicts the spatial distribution of the snow depth anomalies with respect to the average (2002-2016) as on February 25, 2019. Although above-average temperatures have brought widespread rainfall in the mid-elevation areas, patches of excess and deficit snow accumulation are also noticeable over the high elevations of northeast and central highlands in the country.

The above-average snow accumulation in the high elevations of northeast Afghanistan and excess rain in the central highlands of Afghanistan that occurred during the last two months (January and February) are most likely to increase water volumes in most of the basins in Afghanistan. 

Figures 4 and 5 highlight the daily progression of snow water volumes in the Kabul and Arghandab basins; and both show significantly above-average volumes as on February 25, 2019. The snow water volume in the Arghandab basin was below-average at the time of reporting in the February 5th Seasonal Monitor. The accumulation of above-average snow water volumes in different basins will most likely ensure sufficient water availability not only for winter wheat but also for the upcoming spring wheat cultivation in the country.   

Temperatures:

The NMME forecast of 2-m air temperatures for March - May 2019 indicates 40-50 percent probability of having above-average air temperatures around Afghanistan. On the other hand, average temperatures are expected for most parts within Afghanistan except a 40-50 percent probability of above-average temperatures in Bagdhis, Herat, and Nangarhar provinces for the forecast period.

Forecasts

Precipitation:

Figure 7 depicts the 6-day precipitation forecast till week ending March 2, 2019. Heavy snow (> 30 cm) is forecast in the central highlands due to strong low pressure tracking across Afghanistan during March 1-2, 2019. Consequently, GFS forecasts an increased risk of flooding in central and southern provinces due to heavy rainfall and snow melt in above regions.

Crop condition and health:

Figure 8 (a) shows the progression of current season (2018-2019) cumulative rainfall (black) in Kunduz province, Afghanistan. The median cumulative rainfall profile and that for 2017-2018 (most recent severe drought year) have been plotted for comparison. It is seen that the 2018-2019 cumulative rainfall is very close to the maximum (1981-2018) indicating abundant water availability conditions for winter wheat crop growth in the province.

The NDVI (MODIS) profile for irrigated wheat in Kunduz province is depicted in Figure 8 (b). The presence of cloud and on-ground snow in the eMODIS imagery during past couple of months has caused lowering of the dekadal NDVI profiles. The current season NDVI profile for irrigated wheat in Kunduz province shows early emergence and healthy vegetative growth conditions (attaining the best possible NDVI, 2003-2018) in the study area.  

NDVI profiles indicating abundant water availability (30-year maximum cumulative rainfall) along with healthy wheat emergence/early vegetative growth (that is not affected by snow/cloud) in other provinces are also available.   

About this Report

The seasonal monitor, produced by the FEWS NET USGS regional scientist and FEWS NET Regional Technical Manager, updates rainfall totals, the impact on production, and the short-term forecast. It is produced every 20 days during the production season. Find more remote sensing information here.

 

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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