LAHORE -  Below average rains/snowfall this winter is not a good omen for agriculture as major reservoirs are unlikely to get enough water for irrigation, experts say.

Persistent dryness has caused considerable increase in weather related diseases, especially among children and elderly people, with experts seeing no respite for the people as no significant rain giving system is approaching the country during the current month.

Experts have forecast below average rains/snowfall this winter that may cause further depletion of surface and ground water resources.

Rains/snowfall in December will be well below average while the situation will improve slightly in January with close to normal precipitation. Fog/smog with variable intensity is likely to prevail in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to excessive pollution.

Abundance of sunshine due to lack of cloudiness and rains has caused above normal temperature during the day.

“Yes the situation is really alarming. Tarbela was not filled to capacity despite good monsoon rains. Use of water for irrigation and power generation has put Mangla and Tarbela under stress. Less rain this winter will decrease availability of water for irrigation and power generation purposes. Less than average snowfall will decrease inflow during snow melting season,” Chief Meteorologist Muhammad Riaz said, adding the situation was worse in arid areas.

According to the chief meteorologist, the prevailing situation would affect yield and could cause huge losses to wheat growers. “Weak western disturbances are likely to affect country this month but without giving significant rains/snowfall. There is the need of judicious use of available resources to minimize losses to the farmers,” he added.

He warned that persistent dryness could worsen drought like conditions in Thar and Cholistan. Accumulative pollutants in the atmosphere due to lack of rains would encourage fog formation during the period, he cuationed and advised extra care for people to avoid diseases caused by prolonged dryness and cold.

“Suspended unburnt carbon, acid and dust particles in the atmosphere are posing serious health hazards. Persistent dryness has caused accumulation of these hazardous particles in the atmosphere. A good rain can wash away these hazardous particles from the atmosphere but it is not happening for prolong period.

“Decrease in the mercury level coupled with high pollution has caused serious hazards and there is need of taking precautionary measures to avoid diseases,” Muhammad Riaz said.

Persistent dryness and cold has caused considerable increase in cases of respiratory tract infection, skin dryness and allergy, common cold, pain in joints, cough, flu and frost bite, said medical specialist Dr Abdul Rauf, adding the people should take extra care to save themselves from these diseases. He urged people to wear mask, warm cloths and properly cover head before going outdoors.

Dr Rauf suggested properly washing face and hands soon returning indoors. He advised people to avoid sharing handkerchief, towel and blanket with those already ill to avoid getting germs.

Besides suggesting use of moisturizers to avoid skin dryness and rashes, he stressed upon taking balanced diet and enhancing liquid intake.

“Extra care should be given to Asthma patients, elderly people and children to save them from complications. Avoid self medication and consult qualified physician in case of any complication,” he stressed.