Editorial: Unease in weather pattern

Srinagar: The weather has been pleasant across Kashmir this winter. But the change in the weather has not set celebrations here as the new pattern has sounded alarm bells among farmers, ecologists and environmental experts.

January this year has not yet witnessed rain or snowfall, the first time since 1980, raising concern about the availability of water during the ensuing summer. The farmer’s have been praying for rain or snow but even these calls have got no answer from nature.

The Meteorological department here has said that this is the longest dry period in the month of January since 1980 as the weather system in Kashmir changed rapidly during January this year. There was forecast of rain or snowfall several times during the month, but a set of changes took away the possibility, leading to the season being rainfall deficient.

Though the figures reveal that the past years have been different as even the last January Kashmir recorded 162.2 millimetres of rain and snow. January 2017 was the wettest in the last 38 years in Kashmir.

Since 1980, there were only three years — 2015, 2007 and way back in 1986 — when the downpour in January did not cross double digits.

Snowfall during December and January — the 40-days of harshest winter period known as ‘Chillai Kalaan’, when the chances of rain and snowfall is the highest — is critical for agriculture and horticulture sectors in Kashmir Valley.

This is because, snow accumulated in higher reaches of the Valley melts during summer, feeding water to rivers and streams which is used for irrigation.

However this time, with very little snow even in the mountains, water scarcity is going to be a big issue if the weather continues to remain dry in the coming weeks. The farming community and environmental experts have predicted that the coming months may spell a disaster for agricultural activities as the valley is entirely dependent for its water resources on the downpour that happens during winters.

Though, nobody can predict how nature behaves but the past record suggests that there seems to be no good news in store for the people here. February is usually considered to be dry as the average downpour during February over the past 17 years has been around 25 to 30 mm.

The key sectors like agriculture, horticulture and power generation therefore, may witness quite a few pullbacks if the weather pattern holds its present status. While, the people here are not expecting major changes in the present weather patterns, we need to introspect as to what has gone wrong on the environmental front.

The alarm that has just been sounded regarding the changing weather patterns needs to be taken seriously as it concerns us all. We as a nation have to think collectively and without wasting any time we have to think about the remedial measures that are needed to be taken. We have to act now, tomorrow may be too late. 

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