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02 May 2011

Asia Update #27: Flooding Downpours in Sumatra

Heavy rains slammed southern Sumatra in western Indonesia this past week. Elsewhere, drought persisted in southern China, and rainfall remains poor across Bangladesh and northeast India. Precipitation continued across much of the Middle East and Central Asia well past when it should have ended.

Alright I admit it, when my headline is about localized flooding, there hasn't been any new major breaking news. None-the-less, southern parts of Sumatra did get hit hard with very heavy rainfall, more than 200 mm (8 inches) in a week in some locations. This has likely resulted in flooding in areas that were hit hardest, especially locations with more rugged terrain. Generally the rest of southeastern Asia was quiet. Moderate rainfall throughout the region, but nothing else excessive. The only significant area of poor rain was in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia.

The drought in southern China continues, and shows little signs that there will be relief anytime soon. Meanwhile, dryness in northeast India, and nearby Bangladesh has continued. These early season rains are not critical to the Indian economy, but could cause local problems if they extend into the growing season. Similar problems would occur in Bangladesh if this poor precipitation is a sign of what the monsoon will be like. So far though the models seem to be favoring an end to the dry weather. At the moment long-term models are favoring a normal season.

From Turkey to Jordan to Afghanistan, the (moderate) rains won't stop, even though the season should have concluded weeks ago. The rains, while not completely unwelcomed, do have the potential to cause problems. Most areas, especially the central areas of the Middle East, are only experiencing light rainfall. This has kept protestors in Syria cool, as the light precipitation has suppressed temperatures. Turkey and Afghanistan, however are receiving moderate rainfall. This has left crops in the fields longer than they should be in Turkey and Lebanon. In Afghanistan, it has made the irrigation system, in some areas, redundant, but also may be preventing field work. This could lead to some damage to crops from spoiling in the fields or allowing weeds to grow thicker than normal before they are removed.

There could be some changes next week, as short-term models are showing the potential for the dry regions of China, India and Bangladesh to receive moderate precipitation. Moisture from the Bay of Bengal my get dragged to the northeast, bringing rainfall to all three regions. Hopefully this model will verify.

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