Long awaited winter rain, snowfall bring relief


Kathmandu, Feb. 24:The country experienced light to moderate rainfall along with heavy snowfall in various high mountainous areas across the country on Thursday.  Some places in and around the Kathmandu Valley also received light snowfall. 

However, the Metrological Forecasting Division under the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, the sole authority responsible for monitoring hydrology, stated that it lacks the mechanism to monitor snowfall and focuses primarily on monitoring rainfall and daily temperature.

According to Govinda Jha, a senior meteorologist at the Division, they have stations only to measure rainfall, not snowfall. 

He said, “We can confirm that high mountainous areas experience snowfall, but we lack the technology to measure its extent and distribution across the country.”

On Thursday, the country experienced significant rainfall following a prolonged winter drought. The Kathmandu Valley witnessed rainfall accompanied by hailstones. The station at the Tribhuvan International Airport recorded 7.8 mm of rainfall.

Meanwhile, our correspondent Yadu Prasad Bhatta from Manang reported that the residents of the district have experienced a sense of relief after eagerly waiting for rain and snowfall for months, and they finally got them on Thursday. 

Yangdu Gurung of Pisang in Manang said, “After three months, we finally experienced a significant snowfall last night.”

Gurung said that the delayed snowfall had deprived the community of essential sustenance. “The crops we grow in our farms have not been sufficient for three months, and the winter has remained particularly harsh and dry. If it had rained and snowed earlier, our crops would have flourished, and there would have been enough grass for our animals,” he added.

Yarsagumba (fungus that parasitizes ghost moth larvae and produces a fruiting body prized as herbal medicine) and other herbs serve as the primary source of income for Narpa Bhumi Rural Municipality in the district. 

The locals heavily rely on animal husbandry and farming for their livelihood, especially since their food crops often fall short, lasting barely a month. However, Konzo Tenzing Lama, Chairman of the Rural Municipality, said that the economy has suffered due to the declining production of Yarsagumba in recent years.

He said that the mountains are black in Narpa Bhumi Rural Municipality, which used to remain white for 12 months a year earlier. “If there is snow in December, Yarsagumba starts growing from March onwards,” Lama said. 

Herbs like jatamsi (small, rhizomatous perennial herb), forest garlic, niramasi (flower herbs used as medicinal ingredients) are also very scarce if there is no snow in time, he added.

The combination of insufficient rainfall, prolonged drought, and absence of adequate snowfall, resulting in dry ground conditions, has led to the proliferation of diseases affecting crops, he said. 

“The rural municipality recognises that climate change is exacerbating these challenges, predicting a decline in crop production and an escalating risk of famine as the population continues to grow.”

Ghanshyam Gaire, an officer at the Agricultural Knowledge Centre Manang, expressed concerns about a potential food crisis in Manang if there was no snowfall for three consecutive months, especially in the areas already experiencing food shortages. Gaire said, “Except for lower Manang, agricultural production has been on the 

decline in recent years. It appears that food production may decrease again this year,” he added.

In Manang, rice, corn, and millet are not cultivated. Instead, barley, wheat, buckwheat, sorghum, and potatoes are grown. Farmers in this region find solace in snowfall, as it serves as an essential source of irrigation for their agricultural fields. 

Likewise, our correspondent Ram Mani Dahal from Makawanpur reported that the Tribhuvan Highway was blocked after snowfall in the Daman-Simbhanjyang area in Makwanpur, was cleared on Friday. 

Lakshmi Bhandari, Deputy Superintendent of Police of Makwanpur, confirmed that the road was cleared by the police and locals, allowing for its reopening.

Due to the risk of accidents resulting from slippery road conditions after the snowfall, vehicles travelling from Hetauda to Palung and trucks coming from Palung to Hetauda were temporarily halted. They have been allowed to ply  following the reopening of the road.

Likewise, hoteliers in the Daman-Simbhanjyang area are delighted by the snowfall, as domestic tourists started thronging the area to play  with snow. 

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