La Niña – phenomenon causing unprecedented monsoon rains in Pakistan

Coupled with a negative Indian Ocean Dipole, La Nina is set to trigger heavy rainfall across the country

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) has blamed La Nina for the recent relentless rain in the country.

La Nina, which literally means little girl in Spanish, is a weather phenomenon that refers to cooler than normal ocean surface temperatures in the Eastern and Central Pacific Ocean; this, in turn, causes heavy monsoon in our part of the world.

Currently, together with negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), La Nina is expected to render “above-normal precipitation” in July.

The low-pressure formation in the atmosphere of Pakistan is all set to welcome rains from high-pressure areas in the Indian Ocean, colloquially called, negative IOD.

Predictions are that the first half of the monsoon season, July 1 to Mid-August, will be wetter compared to the second half of the season which ends in September.

A view of a fruit vendor walking through knee deep after recent monsoon rains in Karachi. Photo: Online
A view of a fruit vendor walking through knee deep after recent monsoon rains in Karachi. Photo: Online

Moreover, heavy showers are likely to cause inundation in both hilly and plain areas as per the outlook shared by the PMD.

It is also worth noting that the phenomenon usually persists for two years but this time climate scientists, associated with the United Nation’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), warn that La Nina is likely to continue up to 2023.

WMO has also said, “There is a 70% chance that the protracted La Nina event, which has held the globe in its clutches almost uninterrupted since September 2020, will continue until at least August.”

“Some long-lead predictions even suggest that it might persist into 2023,” the WMO statement further read.

What makes the recent climate anomaly even more interesting is the fact that a ‘triple dip’ La Nina (lasting three years in a row) has happened only twice since 1950. The recent one is the third in 72 years.

Some climate scientists are also anticipating that climate change is more likely to exacerbate the impact of La Nina and make it more frequent compared to yesteryears.

“Human-induced climate change amplifies the impacts of naturally-occurring events like La Nina and is increasingly influencing our weather patterns,” WMO chief Petteri Taalas said in a statement.

He pointed in particular to “more intense heat and drought and the associated risk of wildfires – as well as record-breaking deluges of rainfall and flooding”.

Safety measures in wake of climate emergency

  • People should abide by the ban imposed on picnic spots and areas used for recreation next to water bodies

  • Avoid unnecessary movement during rainfall

  • Stock essential items, dry food, and medicines to deal with long rain spells

  • Keep local emergency numbers handy to deal with any unforeseen crisis

  • Not take shelter next to electric poles or wires during a thunderstorm

  • Steer clear from damaged buildings

  • Ensure water filtration through equipment or chemicals to support good health

  • Maintain proper first aid boxes

Over the long run, it is necessary that we encourage natural remedies such as planting trees and avoiding plastics to cure our ailing atmosphere and earth. Only then, we can counter climate change and ensure survival.

monsoon

PMD

La Nina

Indian Ocean Dipole

Pakistan Met office

WMO

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