Drought is generally considered an extended period (season, year or several years) of deficient precipitation compared to the long-term average for an area that results in water shortage for some activity, group or environmental sector (National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), 2008). It is thus important to monitor precipitation levels in order to ensure a proactive response and effective early warning.
Following reports that rainfall levels in the Middle East were lower than normal, precipitation levels from April 2016 were analysed and compared to levels at the same time the previous year and the long-term average (precipitation levels over the last 15 years). The maps below show these results, with red indicating below normal precipitation (getting darker as the levels decrease) while higher than normal levels are shown in blue (getting darker as the levels increase).
The results of the analysis indicate that rainfall in April 2016 was lower than the previous year, over most of Syria (especially in the North), and slightly below the 15 year average for the month of April. The last three months have seen below normal rainfall over Syria, and if the below average conditions continue, it could result in negative impacts on the current agricultural season. The
rainfall over most of Iraq, and the northeast corner of Syria, is above the previous year as well as above the 15-year average, so conditions at the moment seem relatively good for crop production in these areas. The rainfall situation over Jordan has shown an improvement with rainfall slightly higher than the April long term average. Lebanon rainfall for April is below the 15 year average and also less than the previous year.
RFSAN will continue to monitor the rainfall over the coming months.