Growing Areas Finally Receive Precipitation
The first significant precipitation of the 2002 growing season finally reached the major growing areas of Afghanistan during the last few days of January and the first week of February. Much of the precipitation was in the form of snow and snow accumulated in upper elevations. While nighttime temperatures was generally below freezing, daytime temperatures across many of the growing areas were above 0 degrees Celsius and ranging closer to 10 or 15 degrees Celsius. For the growing season, cumulative precipitation is about 50 percent of normal. Drought has affected Afghanistan’s crops during the last two growing seasons, compounding the effect of continued below normal precipitation.
Precipitation Continued Across Winter Wheat Areas
During December 2001, seasonably wet weather was received in most winter wheat areas in the Middle East, but unseasonable wetness worsened flooding in parts of southwestern Turkey. The exception was northwestern Iran, which received light, scattered precipitation. Unfavorable warmth and dryness returned to southern and eastern Iran later in the month, but scattered showers continued elsewhere across the region’s major winter wheat areas. During the first several weeks of January 2002, dry weather covered southwestern Turkey and the Anatolian Plateau, providing much-needed relief from December’s excessive wetness and local flooding. Near- to above-normal precipitation continued in eastern Turkey, and heavy rain developed from south-central Turkey to Israel, boosting moisture reserves for winter grain development and future irrigation requirements. Rainfall was light across the winter wheat areas of eastern Syria, but moderate rain covered much of Iran, including previously dry sections of the east and northwest. Prevailing weather patterns and satellite imagery depicted scattered showers across Iraq. Mostly dry weather dominated the region from January 13 – 26. A few locations in Turkey and Iran received light precipitation during this period, mostly in the form of snowfall. Locally heavy precipitation fell from western Syria southward through Israel, boosting long-term moisture and irrigation reserves. From January 27 through February 2, the dry weather pattern continued to dominate Turkey. Temperatures averaged below normal over the Anatolian Plateau, but snow cover offered protection from low temperatures. Showery, warmer-than-normal weather dominated most other major winter wheat areas across the region. Heavier precipitation again fell in northern Israel and from central Syria to west-central Iran, and satellite imagery and weather patterns indicated precipitation across Iraq.
Africa: Morocco and Western Algeria
In December 2001, above-normal rainfall across Morocco boosted soil moisture, allowing winter grain planting to proceed. However, most of Algeria and Tunisia received much lower than normal precipitation. Fortunately, temperatures in Algeria and Tunisia were normal to slightly below normal, limiting the negative effect of the dryness. Weather during January 2002 turned dry across Morocco and limited the soil moisture that was available for vegetative winter grains. Light-to-moderate showers, in mid-January, temporarily eased dryness across Algeria, especially in the east, and across northern Tunisia. From January 20 though February 5, little to no rain fell across Northwestern Africa and temperatures were 1 to 5 degrees Celsius above normal, stressing winter grains and resulting in a decline in crop conditions. During February 6 and 7, a low-pressure system passed across eastern Algeria producing much-needed rainfall and lowering temperatures. Unfortunately however, this rain bypassed Morocco and most of western Algeria and Tunisia.
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