September is expected to be one of the driest months of the year in Kashmir, with no significant precipitation anticipated for the first two weeks of the month, according to a forecast issued by the region’s weather department (MeT). The alert comes amid an unrelenting heat wave that has gripped the region since the onset of summer, with temperatures in Srinagar soaring to 34.6 degrees Celsius. The unusual heatwave conditions began in May, continued through June and July, and extended into August. While heatwaves are not uncommon in May across north and central India, the exceptionally high temperatures in places like Jammu and Kashmir have raised concerns.
One factor contributing to these soaring temperatures has been the feeble presence of Western Disturbances, which usually bring rainfall and cooler conditions to J&K during this time of year. These disturbances have been disappointingly lacking in moisture, allowing the sun’s radiation to heat the region unabated. Dry westerly winds have only exacerbated the situation, as they do not bring any moisture relief.
Despite the overall dry outlook for September, the MeT’s data reveals an interesting twist: Precipitation in J&K, attributed to Western Disturbances and the monsoon, has been surprisingly above normal. From June 1 onwards, the region received 171.4 mm of rainfall, compared to the average 135.2 mm during this period. Both Kashmir and Jammu divisions experienced more rain than usual, with Jammu division recording 23.7 percent above-normal rainfall and Kashmir valley going a remarkable 34.1 percent beyond the usual figures.
This unusual precipitation created a flood-like situation in the second week of July. The water level of river Jhelum breached flood alert levels in south Kashmir and Srinagar, causing concern among the local population.
The surprising combination of a dry September forecast and above-average rainfall in the preceding months shows the growing complexity of climate patterns in this region. We can still hope for the weather to pleasantly surprise us. As we deal with these weather extremes, it serves as a reminder of the urgent need for continued research and monitoring of climate patterns in J&K and Ladakh. Understanding and adapting to the evolving climate is crucial for the well-being of the residents of the region. It also serves to alert people as well as the UT government about the need to take concrete steps to protect our environment. It is true that climate change is a global phenomenon and the local measures – and that too in as small a region as Jammu and Kashmir – won’t make a big difference. But it hardly detracts from the urgent need to adopt a climate friendly approach in any part of the world, including in Kashmir.
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