Saturday July 02, 2022

Above normal monsoon rainfall may heighten flood risk in country

Various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received a rare snowfall in the month of June, which turned the weather pleasant in hilly areas

By News Desk & our correspondents
June 22, 2022
A vendor covered his stall with an umbrella during rain in Peshawar on June 21, 2022. Photo: INP
A vendor covered his stall with an umbrella during rain in Peshawar on June 21, 2022. Photo: INP

ISLAMABAD: The above-normal monsoon rainfall in the country has increased risks of flooding, landslides and urban floods in big cities and vulnerable districts endangering public life, property and livestock, Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) warns. 

Meanwhile, various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received a rare snowfall in the month of June, which turned the weather pleasant in hilly areas.

The National and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (NDMA & PDMAs), following the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) weather alerts of torrential rains, have issued directives to the departments concerned to scale up mitigation and disaster management activities to cope with the impending risk of flooding and landslides.

Director, National Agromet Center PMD, Dr Khalid Mahmood Malik, said that the country on average received approximately 140 to 145 millimeter rainfall (143mm recorded exactly) during monsoon season whereas the rainfall volume exceeding this number was termed "above normal monsoon rainfall". He added that the above normal rainfalls were dangerous which might create massive water volume in a very short time and cause urban flooding.

Dr Khalid said there was no concept of superflood scientifically as quoted by some quarters in the media while referring to the 2010 heavy floods. "There is no such scientific term rather massive flood is the appropriate term.”

The Met Office director further explained that above-normal rains could not be linked to massive floods technically, but a rain spell starting at a fast pace could cause flood. Dr Malik explained the scattered showers with intervals did not accumulate enough water to cause flood.

The PDMA Punjab has warned the masses to take precautionary measures during monsoon season as the province received 57 per cent more rainfall than average and the trend would continue in the coming days.

The PDMA also shared the weather advisory of Regional Met Centre predicting heavy rainfall from June 20 to 23 that might cause landsliding and flash flooding in vulnerable areas of Kashmir and Punjab.

The PMDA also underlined the risk of urban flooding in major cities particularly Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Multan and Dera Ghazi Khan, directing the district administrations to ensure desilting and cleanliness of tributaries and drains.

The National Weather Forecasting Center of PMD recorded maximum rainfall in districts of Punjab including Jhang 98mm, Dera Ghazi Khan 69mm, Bhakkar 63mm, followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 64mm in Dera Ismail Khan and 35mm in Bajaur, 36mm in Rawalakot of Kashmir and the least rainfall of 20mm in Balochistan's Zhob district, 5mm in Gupis and Bagrote of Gilgit-Baltistan and traces recorded in Karachi, Sindh.

The PDMA Punjab also issued guidelines for public awareness to ensure protection of life and property during the rainy season, advising people to avoid contact with broken electric wires, and also circumvent digging along under construction and old buildings. In case of emergency, the people are advised to call 1129 or contact relevant district emergency operation centre, it said.

The PDMA Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also issued similar guidelines to the masses. The authority urged the masses to call 1700 in case of any emergency. Various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa received a rare snowfall in the month of June, which turned the weather pleasant in hilly areas. Hilly areas in Kaghan Valley, Shangla District, Upper Dir and Upper Chiral received snowfall. Mehlp, Khot, Shandur, Lasht and other areas of Upper Chitral and Madaklasht of Lower Chitral also received snowfall.

The upper parts of Kaghan Valley received snowfall at around 4pm, which continued intermittently over two hours, blanketing the upper parts of the valley. “It is rare that Kaghan Valley receives snowfall in the third quarters of June, turning the weather chilly,” Mohammad Jibran, a local said.

“The tourists and passengers travelling within the Kaghan Valley and between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan enjoyed the snowfall at Lulusar Lake after parking their vehicles around it,” Jibran said.

The heavy rain, which continued on the third consecutive day after breaking the prolonged dry spell in upper parts of the Hazara Division, triggered landslides in various parts blocking local arteries to traffic.

The links roads connecting villages in Siran, Konsh and Kaghan Valleys were blocked after the landslides. “The Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad Road, which links Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with Gilgit-Baltistan, is clear to traffic,” Hussan Deen, a hotelier told reporters. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police had already made the weather advisory mandatory for visitors going to the Dudipatsar Lake.

“We would not allow tourists/visitors beyond Bassal until the forecast reveals there is no rainy weather on the mountainous Dudipatsar Lake,” said District Police Officer Irfan Tariq. The officials of Upper Kohistan police control room said that the Karakoram Highway has been cleared for all sorts of traffic despite heavy rains.

According to reports from Dera Ismail Khan, two persons were killed and dozens of others injured in the torrential rains coupled with wind, hailstorms and floods in different areas of the district. The PDMA said that a driver drowned when the flash flood washed away a car in Wanda Haibati while another man died in a wall collapse incident in Wanda Khaliq Shah.

The local residents said that an unidentified driver was washed away by gushing waters after his car became stranded in the floodwaters in Wanda Basti. The Rescue 1122 team retrieved his body and shifted it to hospital.

There were also reports that several people were injured in the torrential rains and windstorm in Wanda Basti, Paniala, Paharpur and other areas. The residents said that the windstorm and following flash floods also uprooted a number of trees and collapsed roofs and walls besides causing damage to infrastructure in several areas.

They said that heavy rain and gusty winds with hailstorm started Tuesday afternoon, which continued for two hour causing flash floods. The floodwater inundated many homes and shops in the low-lying areas in Dera City and the adjacent localities inflicting heavy losses on the owners. Mango orchards were also affected by wind and hailstorms. Power supply in the area was also disrupted. The bazaars and streets in the city were flooded as faulty drainage system could not withstand floodwaters while the newly-constructed sewerage lines were also damaged in the floods.

The PDMA Balochistan reported life and property damages in nine districts of the province due to monsoon rains. It recorded seven deaths and reported 20 injured individuals in different incidents occurred during rainy weather whereas a four houses got partially damaged, one road and five bridges got damaged and 366 livestock animals perished during heavy rains.

Rain also damaged over a hundred solar panels, dozens of electric polls and crops. Meanwhile, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Zonal Commander Mazharul Haq Kakakhel and Sector Commander Attiqur Rahman said that they had cleared the two kilometres affected route in Abdulkhel area of Sheikh Badin on an emergency basis after the flooding.