ISLAMABAD: The country witnessed record breaking downpours and snowfall for the month of February raising the water level in the reservoirs around Islamabad near to their maximum levels - an unusual trend during the winters.
The average precipitation in February in Rawalpindi and Islamabad is 80 millimetres, but the recent phenomenon has already brought 182mm rainfall in the twin cities by 8pm on Tuesday and the rain continued throughout the night.
“Such strong systems are rare during this time of the year. Not only it was strong but was also moving very fast covering a huge area from Afghanistan to north-eastern India,” said Dr Mohammad Hanif, Director at the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD).
Northern Punjab, including the twin cities, received heavy rain, forcing the citizens to hold back and remain indoors. Most of Rawalpindi and Islamabad bore a deserted look after evening due to the rain accompanied with chilly winds.
Meanwhile, to contain the people from flocking to Murree for a chill-out, the local and highway authorities issued a warning of choking on the roads due to snow and skidding of vehicles.
The current system not only brought heavy rains but also caused heavy snowfall in the northern parts and hilly areas of the country, including record breaking 10 feet snow at Malamjabba.
After continuing for the whole night, the rainfall had a short break during mid-day Tuesday, but started again in the late afternoon and intensified soon after evening.
Widespread thunderstorm/rain with scattered heavy falls were witnessed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, central and upper Punjab including Islamabad, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, while southern Punjab saw scattered downpours.
As a result of continued rain in the hilly areas of Murree and Galiat, the water level at the three reservoirs around Islamabad increased significantly.
The water level has come close to the maximum limit at Rawal Dam. With an increase of more than 10 feet, the water level reached 1,741 feet by Tuesday evening. The spillways of the lake are opened when the water reaches the 1,748 feet mark.
“This is the highest level for Rawal Dam during winters in 30 years, but we do not know what happened prior to that time as we have to check the previous data,” said an official of the Punjab irrigation department.
Similarly, the water level is expected to be more than 1,950 feet at Khanpur Dam, and the officials posted at the dam said if there was another good rain spell in coming days as predicted by the Met Office, the water level would reach its maximum level of 1,982 feet.
The rains have brought encouraging results to the Simly Dam too, as far as the water storage is concerned, and the water level is expected to touch around 2,300 feet level as the current spell ends by Wednesday noon.
“Apart from the rains around three feet snowfall in Murree and adjoining hills will continue to provide water to these reservoirs in March and April as the snow melts,” Dr Hanif said.
Continued rains and cloudy weather dropped the day time temperature in Islamabad by four degrees Celsius to 11 degrees, while the minimum temperature in the capital was seven degrees.
“The radiations of sun which arrive in the day go back at night, but if there are clouds they block the backward path thus increasing the air temperature near the ground,” an official of the met office said.
CHAKWAL: Chakwal received 106 millimetres of rain during the last about 48 years which the Met Office said was a record after 30 years.
Talking to this correspondent on phone from islamabad, Dr Mohammad Hanif, the director national weather forecasting centre, said “Chakwal received as much rain during the last two days as it used to receive during the whole winter.”
He said the district witnessed such a heaviest rain after 30 years. “The sun will shine in Chakwal district tomorrow (Wednesday),” he added.
In the meantime, the building of a primary school in Khanwal village, some 26km away from here, caved in due to the heavy rainfall. “Luckily, due to public holiday, the students were not present in the school,” said Tariq Murtaza Hashmi, a resident of the village.
The rain also exposed the incompetence of the local administration and political representatives. As a mega sewerage project is lying incomplete, major roads and streets in the city remained flooded with rainwater. The Chakwal-Jhelum Road got inundated and rainwater entered shops and houses along the road.
The Bhoun Road also presented the same picture from Islamia Chowk where rainwater has accumulated.
The residents of Sargojra and Thanil Road faced trouble as their areas were also flooded. The 15 Chowk also turned into a pond.
Dozens of villages are without electricity as due to the rain the supply got disrupted.