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IRI Climate Digest   August 2004

Climate Impacts - July

Contributions to this page were made by IRI researchers
M. Bell, Dr. A. Giannini, E. Grover,
Dr. B. Lyon, C. Ropelewski, Dr. A. Seth

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Asia - China  The Dartmouth Flood Observatory (DFO) enumerated five different flooding events associated with heavy rainfall (July 2004 WASP) during the month of July in eastern and southern China (July 2004 pentad OLR animation), including the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Hunan, Henan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Yunnan, and Lisu Autonomous Prefecture of Nujiang (reference map). By 24 July, flooding during the month had caused at least 95 deaths, and 63 people were still missing. About 137,000 houses had collapsed, and 435,000 others were damaged, leaving about 933,000 people homeless. An estimated forty million people had been affected (AFP).

As of early August, 439 people had been killed and 21,600 people had been injured in flooding and landslides in China during 2004 (IFRC). About 340,000 houses had been destroyed, and over 1 million homes had been damaged, according to the Disaster and Social Relief Department of the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs. The greatest damage and losses have been in the provinces of Hunan, Guangxi, Henan, Hubei, Chonqing, Yunnan, and Shandong (IFRC). Total economic losses this year are estimated at US$2.65 billion. Heavy rainfall and flooding is a yearly occurrence in China, as the monsoon season reaches its height in June, July, and August (climatological precipitation animation).

According to the latest IRI seasonal forecast for September to November 2004, there is a slightly enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation for much of southeastern China.

Asia - Bangladesh,India,Nepal,Pakistan  The death toll due to monsoon-related rainfall, flooding, and landslides in Pakistan, Nepal, India, and Bangladesh has reached 1,972. (ABC News) Recent reports indicate that nearly 1000 and 700 people have been killed in India and Bangladesh, respectively. (Sydney Morning Herald, Reuters) Approximately 10% of the deaths in Bangladesh were due to water-borne diseases. (CNN/AP, IMD, ReliefWeb Map)

In Bangladesh, officials have estimated that flood damage could total $6.7 billion. The flooding, which submerged nearly half of the capital city, Dhaka, greatly disrupted the $4 billion textile industry, which accounts for nearly 80% of the country's export earnings. Authorities have warned that millions in the region are at high risk of contracting diseases such as dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid, and scabies and that nearly 100,000 people are already ill with these diseases. (CNN/AP) Approximately 2 million acres of crops have been damaged or destroyed as well. According to the Food and Disaster Management Minister, Bangladesh will need food aid for 20 million people (i.e., 14% of its population) over the next five months. (CNN) The flooding is expected to last through August and has already been labeled as the worst event since 1998. (UNNews Centre, UNWire, WHO)

Northeastern India, particularly the provinces of Assam and Bihar, has been hit particularly hard by the flooding as well. Over 21 million people have been affected by the flooding in Bihar alone. Much of the area's rice crop was destroyed or damaged by flooding in April. The recent flooding in July destroyed household food stocks and affected household income sources such as livestock rearing and agricultural day labor. At least 500,000 hectares of farmland were submerged during July in Assam and 1.3 million hectares of crops were damaged in Bihar. Nearly 2000 head of livestock were lost in Bihar as well. Sixty percent of India's workforce are dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods and according to the United Nations Resident Coordinator, those living in the flood-affected rural areas will need "substantial assistance just to get back to where they were before the flood". (Financial Express, CNN/AP, AFP)


Asia - Japan  Temperatures across Japan soared during late July as Tokyo recorded its highest temperature (39.5°C, 103.1°F) since 1923 (July temperature anomalies, percentiles). At least 400 people have required medical treatment from heat-related illnesses, and several deaths were reported. The heat has impacted the economy as well. Air conditioner and beer shipments during July increased by 10% and 100%, respectively, compared to July 2003. (Terra Daily/AFP, The Daily Yomiuri, MSNBC/AP) Retailers and service providers are expecting a similar increase in sales on outdoor furniture, clothing, and pre-cooked meals. According to a Nikkei newspaper survey of analysts, weather-related sales are expected to be worth an extra 0.3% (i.e., $15 billion) to Japan's gross domestic product. (The Daily Times, NASA)

Europe - Portugal,Spain,The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  A heat wave in southeastern Europe killed at least 33 people in early July. Temperatures rose to 38°C (100°F) in Romania and 43°C (109°F) in Macedonia (Skopje temperature observations). Most of the 18 deaths in Romania were due to heart attacks, some of which occurred while people were working in the fields, according to hospital officials. (AFP)

The Iberian Peninsula also experienced heat waves during July. Spain reported 11 deaths due to the heat as Madrid recorded a 73-year high temperature of 39.3°C (103°F). The heatwave in Portugal has reportedly contributed to forest fies along the southern coast. Temperatures reached 45°C (113°F) in the tourist region of Faro. (Reuters, DW-World)

South America - Peru  Abnormally cold conditions in the high-altitude areas of the Andes in southern Peru reportedly killed 92 people, including 46 children under the age of five. Forty-one provinces in the departments of Puno, Cuzco, Arequipa, Moquegua, Tacna, Apurímac, and Ayacucho were affected. The National Service of Meteorology and Hydrology (SENAMHI) declared several storm alerts for the approaching winter storms and associated cold waves that affected nearly 316,000 people and 348,000 hectares of crops, and destroyed nearly 300,000 hectares of crops and 147,000 farm animals. UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, and the UN are providing aid valued at $745,000 to help those affected. (IFRC, IFRC Map, ReliefWeb Map, OCHA)


Africa - Swaziland  Below-normal precipitation (precipitation anomaly animation) during the first half of the October 2003 - March 2004 rainy season contributed to a fourth consecutive year of poor cereal harvests in Swaziland, according to a joint report from FAO and WFP (IRIN). About 262,000 people in the country will require food aid by early 2005. Other factors, such as extensive poverty, poor agricultural practices, and the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the country have contributed to the declining crop production as well. (FEWS Net)

Africa - Africa: North,Africa: West  In July, locust swarms continued to move from northwestern Africa into the West African Sahel, invading Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, and Niger (FAO map). Locusts were also reported as far south as northern Nigeria (BBC) and Burkina Faso (IRIN) in early to mid-August and had also spread eastward into Chad (IRIN). According to the FAO, swarms that have arrived in the Sahel have matured quickly and begun laying eggs in many locations. The abundant rainy season in West Africa in boreal summer 2003 and good rainfall in the spring breeding areas in North Africa since that time contributed to the development of the current locust outbreak. Good rainfall in West Africa this summer (precipitation anomalies, July 2004) has resulted in conditions favorable for large-scale breeding, and the likely result will be the formation of new swarms by early September, the heart of the West African growing season, which would seriously threaten agriculture in all affected countries (FAO). Countries throughout the region have developed locust control plans and have appealed for millions of dollars in international aid to fund control operations before a plague develops (BBC, BBC, IRIN, UN Wire, IRIN). In late July, at a meeting of countries in North and West Africa affected by the current locust outbreak, the FAO appealed for $83 million in international aid to fund control operations. Authorities with FAO and national governments in the affected region continue to stress that the consequences of allowing a plague to develop include the threat of famine in the West African Sahel and an eventual cost of $245 million in the next year to bring the spreading plague under control (UN Wire).

The latest IRI seasonal forecast suggests a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation at the end of the rainy season in the West African Sahel (September-November 2004) in much of Senegal, The Gambia, southern and central Mauritania, central Mali, Guinea Bissau, and Guinea Conakry.

Africa - Rwanda,Uganda  The government of Uganda has advised farmers not to sell their food stocks and to plant quickly-maturing crops because of the likelihood of a major crop failure in August. A short rainy season during March-May 2004 (precipitation anomaly map), and below-normal precipitation since then has led to large declines (30 to 40 percent) in the estimated production of several crops, including staples such as millet, sorghum, maize, beans, and matooke (IRIN). Crop production in Karamoja (reference map) is expected to be less than 50 percent of normal, and widespread food shortages are likely in the region for the next two or three months (FEWS Net). The prospect of food shortages is an additional burden on residents of northern Uganda, about 1.6 million of whom have been displaced by conflict in the region.

An early end to the rains in Rwanda in April is being blamed for a 26 percent drop in bean production for the February-July 2004 season compared to the same period last year. According to FEWS Net, this decline may have a significant impact on nutrition on a national scale since beans are a primary source of protein in the diet of most Rwandans. FEWS Net has also reported that a frost event in early July damaged a large amount of tea in plantations in Byumba Province. Losses as large as US$2 million in sales of dry tea between July and October 2004 are expected and will most likely depress the local economy. (July 2004 CID Report)

According to the latest IRI seasonal forecast for Uganda and Rwanda, there is a slightly enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation during the September-November 2004 season.

Africa - Kenya  Drought conditions (Mar-May 2004 WASP Index) in the Coast, Eastern, North Eastern, and Rift Valley provinces of Kenya are continuing to affect food security. A premature end to the 2004 long rains exacerbated the drought sparked by several years of poor rainfall in many pastoral and agricultural areas of the country. Food production is projected to be approximately 40% below normal in the aforementioned provinces. Nearly 1 million people, primarily in the pastoral areas, are currently food insecure. The Kenyan government has already declared the drought situation a "natural disaster" and UN relief agencies, including the WFP, FAO, and UNICEF, are responding to the needs of the affected population and requesting aid on behalf of the government. Specifically, the FAO has asked for $3.6 million to fund relief projects and the WFP has launched an emergency appeal for $82 million. The WFP expects to feed 1.8 million affected people over the next six months and warns that an additional one million people will need food aid in 2005 if the short rains later this year are poor. (IRIN, IRIN, Reuters, IRIN, BBC, July 2004 CID Report)

The latest IRI seasonal forecast for September-November 2004 (which includes much of the short rains) indicates a slightly enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation for Kenya.

Africa - Africa: Greater Horn  Poor rains in the Somali region of Ethiopia and the northern portion of Somalia have extended drought conditions and food insecurity. Much of this region experienced poor rains during May, the heart of the local long (Gu) rainy season, which typically occurs between April and mid-June. (May precipitation percentile map) Preliminary assessments have indicated that lack of water and pasture is widespread and that crops have failed in 14 districts in the Somali region. According to OCHA, up to 1.3 million people are likely to need emergency assistance until the end of the year. The capability of pastoralists to cope with the conditions has been severely weakened by the cumulative nature of the rain deficits and their impacts. Many have been forced to migrate to distant areas due to lack of water and pasture. Another 250,000 pastoralists in northern Somalia are also feeling the effects of the long-term drought. The Sool Plateau is among the worst affected areas. Aid agencies have noted that environmental factors, such as the cutting of trees for charcoal, have also played a role in causing the current drought. Management of such practices has decreased with the organization and power of the Somali state. (IRIN, IRIN, BBC, CID June 2004)

The latest IRI seasonal forecast indicates a slightly enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation for most of Somalia and Ethiopia during September to November 2004.

Asia - Sri Lanka  Most of Sri Lanka has been experiencing drought since the end of 2003. Areas of the North Western and North Central provinces have been affected the most, according to FAO. Water levels in reservoirs and water tanks in these two provinces were reportedly only 21 and 34 percent of capacity, respectively, in late February, toward the end of the Maha season. Production of rainfed crops during the Maha season, which accounts for about 60 percent of annual production, was well below normal in the north and west. Rainfall thus far during the April to September Yala season has been below normal (April-July 2004 precipitation anomaly) in many areas as well, and it is likely that Yala crop production will also be adversely affected. The armed forces and police have been helping to distribute drinking water, and the Disaster Management Council has met to decide how to distribute drought relief funds. (The Academic)

Asia - India  Although areas of western India received heavy rains in the early days of August, most of the region remained quite dry throughout the month of July (precipitation percentile map), in contrast to the heavy monsoon rainfall further east. Areas including the states of Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan (DPA) received below-normal precipitation through July. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), from the beginning of June through early August, accumulated precipitation was 50 percent below normal in West Uttar Pradesh, 44 percent below normal in Himachal Pradesh, and 35 percent below normal in Punjab and West Rajasthan. Because of the poor rainfall performance beginning in mid-June, the planting of cereals, pulses, and oilseeds in Andhra Pradesh, and various crops in Rajasthan and areas of Karnataka and Maharashtra was delayed ( The central government has announced that it is taking steps to increase grain reserves and provide drinking water to drought-affected areas (BBC).

Caribbean - Cuba  Eastern Cuba is feeling the effects of the worst drought in 40 years (August 2003-July 2004 WASP). The provinces of Camagüey, Granma, Guantánamo, Holguín, Las Tunas, and Santiago de Cuba are among those hardest hit, though the dry conditions are starting to extend into central Cuba as well. Approximately 85% of the population in these eastern provinces are affected by the drought, according to the WFP. Authorities also indicate that approximately 150,000 hectares of agricultural land have been abandoned due to lack of irrigation and rainfall and, as of May, 76,000 head of cattle had been lost. Withering sugarcane, banana, and yucca crops have contributed to a surge in prices in local markets. WFP provided a 1-month ration of food to over 110,000 people in the worst affected provinces of Camagüey, Holguín, and Las Tunas.

Water resources have also been affected as the national reservoir capacity is now down to 39% and thousands of people in Holguín city, Cuba's fourth largest city, are experiencing water shortages. The dry conditions in Holguín have been developing over the past year. In July 2003, authorities went on alert after rain failed to fill the reservoirs in the area. By May 2004, when rainfall was 40% below normal, two of the city's three reservoirs had dried up for the first time ever, according to Holguín's deputy director of Cuba's National Institute of Hydraulic Resources. The Cuban government has responded to the situation by drilling more than 100 new wells in the Holguín region and selling drinking water at reduced prices. (WFP, CNN)

The latest IRI seasonal forecast indicates a slightly enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation for eastern Cuba during the September-November 2004 season.

Europe - Europe: Central,Europe: East  Weather during the last several months has been favorable for the development of both winter and summer crops throughout much of central and eastern Europe and the Balkans. (Apr 2003 CID Report) Crop production estimates are up substantially from the previous year, when cold temperatures caused a large winterkill of the winter grain crop. Winter temperatures this year were generally mild (Dec 2003-Feb 2004 temperature anomaly), and good precipitation has resulted in abundant soil moisture for winter wheat and barley. Winter wheat production in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus, and Malta (reference map) is estimated at 20.9 million tons, which is 4.8 million tons greater than last year's harvest. Winter barley production is expected to increase as well. Large increases in winter grain production this year are also expected in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. (USDA)

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