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 March 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 March 2016 was lower than the previous year, over most of Syria, and slightly below the 15 year average for the month of March. There is a slight improvement in the rainfall over Syria when compared to the situation in February. However, if the below average conditions over Syria continues, it could result in negative impacts on the current
agricultural season. The rainfall over most of Iraq is above the previous year as well as above the 15 year average, so conditions at the moment seem relatively good for crop production. The rainfall situation over Lebanon and Jordan has shown a marked improvement when compared to the previous month.
RFSAN will continue to monitor the rainfall over the coming months.