Access the Samosa archives
Pakistan freezing, Britain in bloom

By Marianne Landzettel

27th January 2012

Scotland and Northern Ireland may have seen a fair share of snow and ice this winter, but in England, in particular in the southeast, one could be fooled to think autumn had turned into spring by skipping winter. Wildlife experts say they have recorded flowers in bloom several months ahead of the time they normally would be.

In contrast South Asia is experiencing a winter with record lows in temperature and above average snowfalls.

Last weekend Pakistani newspapers carried pictures of people in Quetta coming out into the streets to enjoy thick snow flakes falling, leaving parts of the city with as much as a 20cm snow cover. The surrounding mountains received even more snow and hundreds of cars got trapped on national highways. Across Pakistan, even as far south as Karachi, temperatures were reported to be uncomfortably low.

Gas and electricity shortages have made many people’s lives miserable, but environmentalists say the severe weather has benefits, too: The snow fall will help replenish ground water tables, which had been dropping fast, and rivers are likely to carry sufficient water during the summer months.

Across the border in India conditions are similar. Late on Saturday the Indian Air Force evacuated more than one thousand people who had been trapped by snow in Srinagar in Indian administered Kashmir. But this year even southern India is not exempt from the cold: Last week alone seven people died in Andhra Pradesh and in neighbouring Karnataka temperatures fell to a hundred year record low.

Experts say the weather is the result of the La Nina weather phenomenon, which occurs when water temperatures in the eastern Pacific are particularly low. It seems to be enhanced by interdependent atmospheric pressure patterns in the arctic and across the north Atlantic. While these patterns used to alternate between positive and negative cycles, the positive one seems to be dominant since the 1970s. Climatologists continue to study these patterns, which seem to have an impact on the timing and the intensity of the monsoon season, to see how they are connected with global warming. But for the time being the cold spell across the Subcontinent is set to continue.

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.