Monsoon comes to Nepal, three days ahead of schedule

Arjun Poudel
Kathmandu, June 11: Monsoon clouds entered the country from eastern Nepal on Monday, three days ahead of the usual onset date.

According to the Meteorological Forecasting Division of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, which issued a special bulletin, several districts of eastern Nepal—Sankhuwasabha, Taplejung, Panchthar, Ilam and Jhapa districts have been witnessing rainfall caused by the monsoon clouds.

“This year, monsoon clouds entered the country three days before the normal onset date,” said Sanjeev Adhikari, a meteorologist at the division. “But people residing in the Tarai region of mid- and far-western Nepal should not expect immediate relief from the heatwave conditions, as it normally takes at least a week for the clouds to reach the far-western region.”

Dhangadhi recorded 44 degree Celsius on Monday, followed by Nepalgunj 43.6, Birendranagar 40.9, Bhairahawa 39.8, Ghorahi 39.6 and Dipayal 40.7 degree Celsius. Kathmandu recorded 34.4 degree Celsius, according to the met office.

Met officials said that monsoon clouds could bring rainfall to the Kathmandu Valley on Wednesday. They said the western wind is still blowing in the mid and western parts of the country.

The monsoon season in Nepal generally begins on June 13 and ends on September 23. Last year, it started on June 14, one day later than the normal onset day.

A normal monsoon, supported by the timely arrival of rain, translates into favourable agricultural production, mainly of paddy, and is further linked with the country’s overall economic growth.

The monsoon season, which delivers around 80 percent of the country’s total annual rainfall, generally lasts 105 days. But, in recent years, it has been taking more time to withdraw.

The Met Office has forecast above-normal rains and above-average maximum and minimum temperatures this monsoon, which could unleash extreme weather events, such as flooding, inundation, and landslides.

The department’s climate section has forecast weather conditions for four months (June to September). It said most parts of the country are likely to experience above-average minimum and maximum temperatures and rainfall due to weakened El Nino conditions, and the development of La Nina conditions.

El Nino conditions are the climatic patterns in which the surface water warms, unusually.

The opposite, the cooling of the ocean surface, happens in the La Nina conditions.

“There is a 35 to 55 percent chance of above-average rainfall in most parts of the country during monsoon,” reads the bulletin issued by the department. “Chance of above-average maximum and minimum temperature in most parts of the country is 35 to 65 percent.”

The weather forecast predicts a 35-45 percent chance of normal rainfall in a few places of Lumbini and Sudurpaschim provinces. Similarly, central parts of Gandaki province and southern parts of Koshi province may experience normal maximum temperatures, and its chances are also 35 to 45 percent.

Also, the chances of normal minimum temperatures in a few places in Sudurpaschim, Gandaki and Bagmati Province is 35 to 45 percent, according to the Met Department.

Nepal is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the climate crisis and has witnessed multiple extreme weather events over the past decade and a half.

Evidence suggests the maximum temperature in Nepal is rising faster, at 0.056 degrees Celsius a year, compared to the global average of a rise of 0.03 degrees Celsius a year.

Experts say extreme weather events—excessive rainfall in a short time, continuous rain for several days post-monsoon, dry spells and droughts, below-average precipitation, and above-normal temperatures in winter—have become more frequent in Nepal.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority estimates that 1.81 million people and 412,000 households will be affected by the monsoon this year. Of them, 83,000 households will be directly affected, and 18,000 families will need to be rescued in monsoon-related disasters.

Experts from the authority say that most districts in the Tarai could be affected by flooding this rainy season. The vulnerable places include Rapti-Sonari Rural Municipality of Banke, Bardiya, Tikapur of Kailali, Triveni-Susta Rural Municipality of Nawalparasi West, Kalahari Rural Municipality of Morang, and several places of Rautahat.

Several locations in West Rukum; Jajarkot; Helambu and Melamchi of Sindhupalchok; Sangurigadhi Rural Municipality of Dhankuta; Maiwakhola Rural Municipality of Taplejung; and Chumnubri of Gorkha have been designated as most vulnerable to landslides during the monsoon.

Monsoon in Nepal is a season of epidemics, with thousands of people across the country getting infected with water-borne and vector-borne diseases. Snakebite incidents and resulting deaths are also common in the season but the phenomenon, which experts dub “a lurking invisible crisis”, remains grossly neglected. Scores die, and thousands of people get infected with the dengue virus every monsoon.

Most sources of drinking water generally become contaminated during the rainy season. People residing in disaster-hit areas, and those displaced by natural disasters are highly vulnerable to infections with waterborne and vector-borne diseases.

Officials at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority said they have started preparations accordingly to deal with possible incidents of disasters in the coming days.

The authority has formulated the ‘Monsoon Preparedness and Response Plan-2081’ to deal with disaster incidents.

Agencies under the ministries including the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Health and Population, Ministry of Urban Development, and the Ministry of Water Supply have crucial roles in disaster response.

The UN agencies also play a major role by providing aid, according to Dijan Bhattarai, spokesperson for the authority. “Logistics and relief materials have already been stocked up in the warehouses of all seven provinces and 12 logistics hubs,” he said.

Officials say all agencies, including the Army, Police, Armed Police Force, non-governmental organisations, and agencies under ministries, have their own responsibility and they should act proactively during disasters.

– The Kathandu Post

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