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19 April 2011

Asia Update #25: Drought Devastating Southern China

Southern China is continuing to face one of the worst droughts it has faced in recent history. Elsewhere, rainfall is slightly off in eastern Bangladesh and northeastern India, but not significantly so. In southeast Asia, rains have progressed northward across the mainland. Light rains continue to fall in parts of Central Asia, eastward to Turkey, after the typical end of the season.
In southern China most, if not all, rain fed crops wilted during the growing season. The additional dryness at this point is mainly affecting grazing areas for livestock, and reducing water available for drinking. Dryness is also a concern on the Korean peninsula, where the last month has been unusually dry. (Not the territory we typically cover here, but Japan has also been dry, likely welcomed as the clean up from the earthquake and tsunami continue.)

Rains have continued to surge northward across Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Burma. The rains are arriving on time, but are slightly heavier than normal. The recent devastating floods in southern Thailand are likely the worst in the region, although each country has shown signs that localized minor flooding is occurring region-wide. Meanwhile, a toned down start of the rains in eastern Bangladesh, and northeastern India may be causing some minor headaches, although nothing critical is occuring. Assam, Nagaland and Meghalaya in India, and from Dhaka towards Sylhet in Bangladesh have been the main areas affected. The dryness is not severe at this time, and as this is one of the wettest places on earth, it is unlikely that this will grow to be a major problem.

From central Asia eastward towards the Caucasus and around towards Turkey, rains have held on unusually late in the season. This is a good thing, especially in central Asia, where rain will increase available moisture for crops, livestock and consumption, and will help hold down temperatures before summer.

The coming week may bring moderate showers to southern China, along with continued rainfall in southeast and central Asia. Another front is likely to move into Turkey, suggesting a continued wet pattern; and rain, possibly heavy rain, pushing into the slightly dry regions of India and Bangladesh.

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