When the summer monsoon rains come sweeping in to the northern mountains of Pakistan, it is both a wonderful blessing and, if the rains are heavy and they often are, then also a cause for concern.
Plenty of rain is essential to replenish springs, streams and rivers, and to seep down into the earth itself to replenish underground water reservoirs known as ‘aquifers’. Without this rainfall there would be a serious lack of fresh water for human consumption, for trees, plants and all other forms of wildlife and for crops of edible things such as fruit and vegetables. Rain is also necessary for the grass, on which domesticated livestock depend for food, to grow lush and green and nutritious.
Rainfall in the mountains is also important for everyone and everything living down in the plains and for commercial agriculture too as, sometimes very quickly and at other times slowly, much of the rain that falls in the mountains makes its way downhill into the plains. This rainfall then fills up dams which are used for water supply to cities and towns and, in the case of some of them, for the production of hydro-power electricity.
Without enough rainfall, water levels in dams across the country get very low and people become short of water for daily use and farmers don’t have enough water with which to irrigate important crops like wheat. In addition, there is a further shortfall in electricity generation and both the population and industry suffer accordingly.
Sadly, if monsoon rainfall is unexpectedly heavy, then massive flooding happens, as was the case two years ago and then on a more limited scale last year, people and agriculture are extremely hard hit, plus, in mountain areas, the rain soaked ground becomes so heavy that dangerous landslides can occur.
Mountain rainstorms are often quite spectacular events. They can build up over a few days, the temperatures rising and the atmosphere becoming humid and heavy and then, with loud rolls of booming thunder, sometimes accompanied by brilliant flashes of lightning, the storm breaks and the rain comes pouring down!