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IRI Climate Digest   August 2006

Climate Impacts - July

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

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Africa - Mauritania  Strong storms caused flooding during 22-24 July (July 2006 1-Month WASP Index Map) which led to the deaths of seven people in the regions of Trarza and Brakna in southern Mauritania. The deaths occurred in the towns of Boutilimit and Ednesh. Strong winds destroyed houses, and several villages were flooded by the heavy rains. In total, approximately 300 families were left homeless (IRIN, IFRC, IFRC Map).

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for the September-November 2006 season, which includes the final month of the rainy season (Climatological Precipitation Loop), indicates a slightly-enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation in southern Mauritania.

Asia - Nepal  Villages in 10 western Nepalese districts, including Bajura, Jajarkot, Kalikot, Dailekh, Rolpa, Rukum, Jumla, Humla, Dolpa and Mugu, are currently experiencing severe food shortages due to last winter's drought and long-term livelihood instability (Dec 2005-Feb 2006 3-Month WASP Map). As of 4 August, the World Food Programme had delivered food rations to 7500 families in four of these districts (Bajura, Kalikot, Dailekh and Jajarkot), but operations were greatly hampered by heavy monsoon rainfall that has made many roads in the area impassable (July 2006 Precipitation Percentile Map). WFP also warned that if more funds are not pledged for the relief effort in the coming weeks, then it will be unable to provide aid to the remaining six districts. (WFP, IRIN)

Asia - India,Pakistan  Heavy monsoon rainfall in July (July 2006 Precipitation Percentile Map) and continuing into August triggered flooding and landslides that affected areas of India and northern Pakistan. Many of those affected in northern Pakistan are survivors of the massive 8 October 2005 earthquake who are still homeless and particularly vulnerable (IRIN, IRIN, IRIN). As of 16 August, at least 230 people in northern Pakistan had been killed, about 1,000 villages had been flooded, tens of thousands of hectares of crops had been ruined, and hundreds of thousands of people in the North West Frontier Province, Punjab, and Balochistan (Reference Map) had been forced from their homes during the weeks of heavy rains since mid-July (IRIN). In India, monsoon rains in July caused flooding in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Gujarat (Reference Map, AFP). As of the end of July there had been over 300 deaths throughout India associated with the monsoon. According to the Indian Agriculture Research Institute a good harvest of summer crops is expected in spite of the flooding, as long as beneficial growing conditions continue for the rest of the monsoon season.

Asia - Japan,North Korea,South Korea  Heavy rainfall caused flooding and landslides in North Korea, South Korea and Japan during July, which coincides with the peak of the rainy season across most of northeastern Asia (July 2006 WASP Index Map, Climatological Rainfall Animation). On the Korean Peninsula, these rains came on the heels of Typhoon Ewiniar, which left many areas saturated and vulnerable to flooding and landslides. In North Korea, more than 800 people were killed or are missing due to the flooding, according to Choson Sinbo, a pro-North newspaper. IFRC, however, states that 151 people were killed and 29 people were missing, while reports from Good Friends, a South Korean humanitarian aid group, put these numbers into the thousands (Good Friends Map). Other reports, including those from Choson Sinbo and the South Korean government, estimate that nearly 29,000 families were affected, 7500 homes were destroyed, and 24,000 hectares of farmland were damaged (Reuters). A large portion of this damage occurred in the provinces of Pyongan, North Hwanghe and Kangwon (Reuters). Approximately USD 60 million in relief is being sent to North Korea by South Korea for emergency food and relief supplies (KOIS).

More than 50 cm (20 in) of rain fell in eastern South Korea in just four days during mid-July, causing the Han River to overflow (Reuters). According to the governmental disaster authority, the heavy rainfall and flooding killed 19 people and left 31 people missing (Government of the Republic of Korea). The government has earmarked USD 3.6 billion (3.5 trillion won) for relief and restoration. Approximately 65 percent of this relief will go to the northeastern province of Gangwon, where 3600 poeple were forced from their homes and another 7700 people were isolated due to the flooding. The remainder of the government aid package is slated for efforts in the provinces of South Gyeongsang, North Chungcheong, Gyeonggi, North Gyeongsang, South Chungcheong and South Jeolla. Additional funds were specifically set aside for the 39 declared special disaster areas. (KOIS, KOIS) The Republic of Korea National Red Cross was also providing relief to more than 13,000 people affected by the flooding (KNRC).

Japan was also hit by heavy rainfall, flooding and mudslides during July. Much of the damage occurred in the prefectures of Nagano, Shimane, Kyoto, Toyama, Okayama, Gifu, Yamanashi, and Fukui on Honshu Island, and Kagoshima and Kumamoto on Kyushu Island. As of 23 July, at least 21 deaths in Japan had been blamed on these events. (BBC, DFO)

Asia - China  As of mid-August, eight strong typhoons have made landfall in China since May (Western Pacific Typhoon Tracks) and have contributed to the highest natural disaster death toll in the country in the past six years (AFP). According to the Chinese government, as of 9 August, ahead of typhoon Saomai, typhoons this year had killed or left missing 1,045 people. Typhoon Saomai, possibly the strongest typhoon to strike China in fifty years (BBC), is believed to have killed at least 255 more people. Apart from the typhoons, there have been a large number of damaging heavy rain events, (Xinhua, BBC, Xinhua), whose related floods (July 2006 Precipitation Persistence Map) and landslides have reportedly caused 758 deaths this year. In the first days of August, IFRC made an emergency appeal for USD 4.82 million to aid 240,000 people in China affected by this year's flooding. At that time, flood- and storm-related economic losses were estimated at USD 10 billion, and through 26 June, flood-related disasters had affected approximately 254 million people and 26 million hectares of farmland (IFRC, IFRC Map).

Europe - Ukraine  Heavy rainfall caused flooding in western and southern Ukraine during July. The oblasts of Lvivskaya, Ivano-Frankovskaya and Chernovetskaya and the republic of Crimea were among the areas most affected when three month's worth of rain fell in a period of just three days (30 June-2 July, June 2006 Precipitation Percentile Map). Climatologically, June and July are the wettest months of the year in the affected areas. Two deaths were blamed on the flooding that directly affected 5000 people and caused an estimated CHF 30 million (USD 24.3 million) in damage. Assessments indicate that 1500 buildings were either severely damaged or submerged by flood waters. Another nine buildings and 700 hectares of farmland were completely destroyed. (IFRC, IFRC Map)

South America - Chile  Heavy rainfall in central and southern Chile (IFRC Map) starting on 11 July (Daily Precipitation Animation) led to flooding and landslides that caused 23 deaths and affected nearly 150,000 people, according to the Chilean Office of Emergencies (IFRC). As of 14 July, over 25,000 people had been forced from their homes due to the threat of flooding; 75 homes had been destroyed, and over 13,000 had sustained minor damage (IFRC). Bio Bio (Region VIII) in central Chile has suffered the greatest damage -- about 24,000 people in that region alone were affected, and it was declared a disaster zone by the country's President. Power and water lines were damaged, roads were obstructed, and rail service was interrupted by the flooding and landslides (Reuters, IFRC, DFO).

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for the September-November 2006 season indicates a slightly-enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation for sections of southern Chile.


Europe - Europe: Central,Europe: West  Abnormally warm conditions affected much of Europe during July, with most of the continent experiencing temperatures above the 90th percentile (July 2006 Temperature Percentile Map). According to MeteoFrance, the French meteorological office, July was the hottest month on record. As of 27 July, the deaths of 80 people were blamed on the heat wave, with 64 of those deaths occurring in France. Heat-related deaths were also reported in Italy, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. As is common during heat waves, most of the deceased were elderly. The health impact of the current event, however, pales in comparison to that of the 2003 European heat wave, which claimed the lives of more than 15,000 people in France alone.

In addition to its impact on human health, the abnormally warm and dry conditions have increased the danger of flooding in the Netherlands; as peat dikes dry out, they crack and become vulnerable to failure. Lavender production in southeastern France, mushroom growth in the Czech Republic, and water resources, crops and wildfires across the continent were also negatively affected by the heat wave. (AFP, AFP, AFP, BBC, BBC, BBC, BBC)

The latest IRI forecast for the upcoming September-November 2006 season indicates a slightly- to moderately-enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation on the Iberian Peninsula, as well as for portions of Italy and southern France.

North America - United States: Great Plains,United States: Midwest,United States: West  An extended period of record high temperatures (July 2006 Temperature Anomaly Map) resulted in at least 141 heat-related deaths in the U.S. state of California (Reference Map) during the last half of July. High temperatures in areas of Southern California and in the Central Valley remained above 100F (38C) for several days in a row, and numerous high temperature records were broken (National Weather Service). Elderly individuals with inadequate air conditioning in Central and Southern California comprised the majority of the victims (AFP). The heat wave also caused large livestock and agricultural losses in the state and overloaded the electrical power supply system (AP). Some 25,000 cattle, or about 1% of the state's dairy herd, and 700,000 poultry reportedly died in the heat wave (BBC), and the state's milk production was down about 15 percent from normal (AP). The strain on the electrical distribution system caused approximately 1.5 million electrical customers in California to lose power at some point during the heat wave.

The above-normal temperatures migrated eastward and affected large areas of the central United States by the end of July as well. Heat warnings were issued in the cities of Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, and Tulsa, and heat-related deaths were reported in Illinois and Oklahoma (AP, Reference Map). A massive power outage in the city of Saint Louis caused by thunderstorms initially left 600,000 homes and businesses without power and lasted for nine days during the hot weather (AP, BBC). Record high temperatures in the middle of July also affected New York City and were partially blamed for a large power outage in the borough of Queens that lasted for nine days (AFP). Along with the above-normal temperatures, drought conditions are affecting much of the country. The states of North and South Dakota have been particularly hard hit; some ranchers are being forced to sell their herds or pay high prices for feed (AP).

The latest IRI forecast for the upcoming September-November 2006 season indicates a slightly enhanced probability of above-normal precipitation in portions of the Great Plains, and below-normal precipitation in portions of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest regions.

Water Resources

No reported impacts this month associated primarily with water resources


Africa - Kenya  The drought that put the food security of 11 million in East Africa at risk has also affected tea production in Kenya (Oct-Dec 2005 WASP Index Map). Overall, tea production during the first quarter of 2006 (134 million kgs) was 19 percent less than during the same period last year (166 million kgs). According to the Tea Board of Kenya, the tea industry in Rift Valley province was hit the hardest by the below-normal rainfall. (AFP, Apr 2006 CID)

Africa - Africa: Southern  Several countries affected by drought and poor food production last year in Southern Africa (Oct 2005 CID) are reportedly seeing a significant improvement in crop production this year and are also expecting to see improvements in food security, partly as a result of better growing conditions during the 2005/06 season (Oct 2005-Mar 2006 WASP Index Map, FEWS Net). Compared to last year, harvests were much better in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. In Malawi, agricultural production estimates from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security released in late June indicated that maize production was 113 percent higher than last year's estimate and reached a record total of over 2.6 million metric tons. The bumper harvest was attributed to favorable weather and the government's input subsidy program (FEWS Net). Crop production in Mozambique was greater than that of last year and above the five-year average in some locations, according to (FEWS Net), and food security conditions are reportedly "stable", even in areas affected by last year's drought. In spite of poor rainfall in some areas of Zambia, the food security situation in drought-affected areas has improved, and FEWS Net reports that the distribution of emergency food aid is no longer justifiable (FEWS Net). In contrast to much of the rest of the region, 2006 cereal production in Swaziland was lower than that in 2005 due to poor rains and the impact of AIDS; some 40 percent of adults in Swaziland are estimated to be infected with HIV (IRIN). The country has experienced poor harvests for several years in a row.

The latest IRI seasonal precipitation forecast for the September-November 2006 season indicates a slightly-enhanced probability of below-normal precipitation for Malawi, northern Mozambique, and most of Zambia at the very beginning of the next rainy season in Southern Africa.

Asia - Afghanistan  Much of the wheat crop in Afghanistan, which typically accounts for 80 percent of the country's cereal production, has failed due to below-normal precipitation during the past winter and spring (Nov 2005-Apr 2006 6-Month WASP Map). According to the WFP, approximately 2.5 million people are in need of assistance due to the drought, while 6.3 million people were already at risk of food shortages due to ongoing conflict and previous droughts (Sep 2004 CID). The southern portion of the country, including the provinces of Zabul, Helmand, Kandahar and Oruzgan, have been hardest hit by the most recent drought, but areas in northern and eastern Afghanistan are also experiencing drought-related impacts. More than 4000 and 500 families in the southern provinces of Helmand and Zabul, respectively, have left their homes in search of food in nearby cities. A joint appeal by the United Nations and the Afghan government for USD 75 million was made in late July; 48 percent of this appeal has been covered with pledges by the USAID. (BBC, IRIN, IRIN, IRIN)

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