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03 July 2011

Asia Update #36: Dangerous Dipole in South Asia

A dangerous dipole has set itself up across the Asian subcontinent, and it could have serious consequences if it does not break down. After several weeks of relief from drought, dry weather has unfortunately returned to much of southern China. Moisture is becoming more widely available in southeast Asia, as the Middle East remains seasonably dry.

India can't seem to catch a break, either the northern part of the country is dry, and the south is wet, as the season started off, or the north is wet and the south is dry, as is now the case. Rainfall has become widespread across the Gangetic Plain, with plenty of moisture in Nepal and Bhutan. Bangladesh and even northeastern India and Burma have seen deficits reduced. Meanwhile the southern states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andha Pradesh have dried out to the point of now running seasonal moisture deficits. Along with southern India, Sri Lanka has also lost what had started off as a great Monsoon. For a good harvest, the Monsoon needs to stabilize across the region, and soon, as the monsoon normally peaks during July and August. In far western India, rainfall has yet to arrive, but it has until mid-July before moisture is expected there.

Rainfall is improving across southeast Asia, and precipitation anomalies are starting to tip positive across Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. Although the season started off dry, moisture has improved over the last two weeks and the chances of a near normal flooding on the Mekong are improving.

One thing that could help the Mekong's annual flood is a near normal rainfall pattern in southern China, but we are not seeing that. After several weeks of moderate to heavy rain, which appeared to be breaking the drought, the rains have left. Flooding caused significant damage in rural parts of southern China during June. Thus dry weather was probably appreciated in helping the clean up move along smoothly, but its has now been too long, and it may end up that the heavy rains were an anomaly in a longer drought. Light rainfall is expected across southern China next week, but not enough to keep the drought from returning.

Heavy rainfall will continue in northern China and across North and South Korea.  The heavy rain started last week with the arrival of weak tropical system, Meari, and will likely continue this week as a strong cold front is expected to move through the area.

Calm, seasonably dry weather will continue across the Middle East.

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