Mina Izadi

Abrupt springtime showers quench Iran's thirst

April 9, 2019

TEHRAN — Located in an arid and semi-arid region, Iran has been suffering from water scarcity for decades. However, thanks to the helping hand of nature, the unquenchable thirst has slightly been satisfied.

The unprecedented heavy rains which started on March 19, initially hit Golestan and Mazandaran provinces in the north of Iran, flooding villages and damaging roads. The strong and devastating precipitation system gradually covered a much wider area, stretching through the western and central part of the country.

Although shocked with the torrential fall in precipitation during the two-week period, the parched water reserves both surface and ground types are most probably enjoying the abundance of the reviving fluid.

Figures regularly published by the Water Resources Management Company, show that the sharp rainfalls have changed the pattern of drought in the borders of the country.

According to the charts and numbers, since the beginning of the current water year (September 23, 2018) until April 5, the accumulative precipitation reached 281.3 millimeters all through the country. The number is 180 percent higher than the figure recorded for the corresponding period last year, with 100.3 millimeters of precipitation recorded.

More detailed analysis of numbers comes up with significant twists in the comparatively amount of rainfall each region has received.

For the ease of study, environmentalists and meteorologists have divided the country into six catchment areas including the Caspian Sea, the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea, Urmia Lake, Central Plateau, Eastern Border and Qarequm in the northeast.

According to WRMC, the Eastern Border catchment area has experienced the most significant changes in the amount of rainfall, receiving around 68 millimeters during the investigated period. The figure is 282 percent higher than the same period of last year with only 17.8 millimeters.

The least change is recorded for Urmia Lake catchment area, receiving 54 percent higher precipitation than the period last year. The watershed has received around 399 millimeters of rainfall, while the figure reached 260 last year.

The Caspian Sea watershed area, according to the charts, has received 425.8 millimeters of rainfall. The figure is almost 68 percent higher than that of the last year, when it stood at 253.6 millimeters.

The other catchment area sitting in the southern part of the country, the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea, has been fed with 486.1 millimeters of rainfall during the investigated time. The figure is 256 percent higher than the period last year, with 136.4 millimeters.

The Central Plateau, which does not regularly enjoy the abundance of rainfall, has received 235 percent more precipitation than last year. The watershed area enjoyed 169.3 millimeters of rainfall this year. This is while only 50.5 millimeters of rain was received by the catchment area last year.

The last watershed area, Qarequm in the northeast, has received 193.8 millimeters, showing a 142 percent increase compared to the last year's figure which equaled 80 millimeters.

Five-decade average

More detailed analysis can be carried out comparing the current rainfall rate with the average precipitation rate during the past 50 years.

Accordingly, the Urmia Lake catchment area is currently at the best condition compared to the other watersheds. The area's rainfall amount is 71 percent higher than the average rate, which equals 233 millimeters.

The next most blissful watershed area is the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. Precipitation rate in the area is 54 percent higher than its 5-decade average, 315.1 millimeters.

With an ignorable distance from the previous, stands the Caspian Sea catchment area with 53 percent higher than the average figure, which equals 278.8 millimeters.

With 30 percent higher than 5-decade average precipitation, the Central Plateau is the next area, receiving a record-breaking amount of rainfall. The average figure for the Central Plateau is 130.1 millimeters.

The precipitation rate in Qarequm watershed is 21 percent higher than the average number 159.8 millimeters.

Still, the most deprived area among all is the Eastern Border watershed. Although the catchment area had the highest increase rate in precipitation, rising from 17.8 to 68 millimeters during the investigated period, it is 17 percent below the 50-year average, which is equal to 82.2.

The eastern Border watershed used to be the driest region in Iran during the past several years.

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