The lack of rainfall will continue in January, and hopes for active rainfall across Pakistan have been dashed by the development of La Nina conditions.
Lower rainfall in previous months has been a worrisome sign not only for farmers but also for the authorities tasked with maintaining the supply of water in urban areas.
“The dam was not filled to capacity even once during 2017. The only time the spillways were opened was in mid-September, but that too was upon pressures from the ICT and Rawalpindi administrations,” a Punjab irrigation department official posted at Rawal Dam said.
The floodgates were opened to allow the release of six inches of water, to bring the water level to 1,749ft - around three feet below the maximum level of 1,752ft - in anticipation of heavy rainfall at the tail-end of the monsoon.
The water level in Rawal Lake is currently 1,745ft, and the authorities are pinning their hopes on active rainfall between the Bhara Kahu area and Pindi Point in Murree, which is the catchment area for streams that flow into the lake.
Since cold and moist wind is penetrating the country from the west, rain-thunderstorms with snowfall over the hills are expected in isolated parts of the country, including in the Malakand, Hazara, Mardan and Rawalpindi divisions, Islamabad, the upper Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir.
Cold, dry and dense foggy conditions are likely to prevail over the plains of Punjab and upper Sindh at night and in the morning.
The Met Office has also warned of moderate to dense fog on the motorway from Pindi Bhattian to Lahore in the coming days.
The Met Office has cautioned that slightly below normal rainfall is expected throughout the country in January. Similarly, the amount of snowfall over the hills is also expected to be slightly below normal.
The prevailing global climate and weather conditions indicate that weak La Nina conditions are likely to persist into the first quarter of 2018.
However, an official from the Met Office said that two to three spells of light rain and snowfall over the hills are expected this month.
Due to the lack of rainfall, foggy conditions - mainly in the morning - are also expected in the plains of Punjab and upper Sindh in January.
Temperatures fell to 1°C in the capital in the early hours yesterday, and the intensity of the cold weather may increase today due to chilly winds.
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