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25 April 2011

Asia Update #26: Rains ease in SE Asia

Rains continue after the end of the season from the Black and Caspian Seas to the Hindu Kush. The monsoon is recovering from a slow start in south Asia. Meanwhile rains ease across the ASEAN countries and drought persists in southern China.
Rainfall continues across Turkey, the Caucasus, northern Iran and Afghanistan well after the rains should have ended. A series of low-pressure systems continue to drag moisture across the region. These low-pressure systems are progressing off to the east, including northern parts of India. Here in the states of Punjab and Haryana rainfall has disrupted the harvest of winter wheat. If the rains do not stop soon, it is possible some of the yield may be lost. Elsewhere rainfall is preventing some field work, but is unlikely to cause further disruption to agriculture activities. In Syria light rains have kept temperatures cool, but have been easing over the last few weeks. The combination of cool and relatively dry weather, rare in Syria, may be encouraging more people to join the ongoing protests. Some light rains are possible again here next week.

Southern India, as shown in the map above, has seen below normal rains since the start of March. However, the past couple of weeks have shown significant improvement across both Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Northeast India and Bangladesh have both experienced poor rains to start the season. There has been some slight improvement over the last week, but next week heavier rains are expected to start chipping away at the current deficit. These moderate to heavy rains may also reach into Bhutan and eastern Nepal.

In southeast Asia, rains have eased somewhat over the last week. This is especially true for southern Thailand, which for the first time in over a month, had a moisture deficit. This is good, as flooding, and continued rains have made clean up efforts difficult. Northern Vietnam and Laos both currently have rainfall deficits, but those are likely to fade as the season progresses. The Indonesian island of Sumatra was the site of a very heavy downpour in the northern central part of the island, just south of Aceh. Localized flooding is likely here.

In the east, the southern China drought presses on. With little to no rain during the last week, prospects for a drastic change are low. Although weather models continue to show there is the potential for light to moderate rains, especially along the Vietnam border and the southern coastline, I am not so optimistic. In the image above the western edge of the drought region is visible.

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