Sultanate prays for winter rains

By Lakshmi Kothaneth — MUSCAT: Jan 2: Although summer brought in its share of rains due to local formations from Hajar Mountains, winter rains are considered important to replenish the aquifers in the Sultanate. Many areas in the interior regions of Oman look at water wells as an important source of water which makes winter rains very important. Zahar al Suleimani, Chairman of Water Society, said, “Yes, we have had good rains in the summer, but we should be careful about how much water is abstracted from the ground as the wells are yet to be replenished or recharged as they should be by now.”
People have been praying for rains (Salaat al Istisqaa) in different parts of Oman, including Ibri, Izki, Samayi and Dhank.
“Salaat al Istisqaa is a special prayer that asks the Almighty to bless with rain. It was a prophetic tradition. Prophet Mohammed (Peace be upon him) used to go out of town with his companions to perform prayers when there was a drought, dryness or not enough rain,” said Hatim Abdulsalam, a member of the Islamic Information Center.
Prayer is conducted in a congregation and there is a supplication. When people supplicate, they raise their hands but for supplication in this prayer, hands are raised even higher.
“The request is for forgiveness and then request the Almighty to bring rain to feed the soil and give life back to the earth,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources, some of the challenges Oman faces are successive periods of droughts experienced from time to time, shortage in renewable water quantities in relation to the annual consumption and increase in water demand.
The other challenges are the imbalance between supply and demand as well as wastage of large amount of rainwater either through evaporation or loss to the sea in addition to the high cost of water projects, especially dams.
The delay in winter rains, however, should not be a cause of worry, say weather experts at the Met Office. The current situation is due to the prevalence of high pressure over the area of Arabian Peninsula.
“We are used to high pressure this time of the year. It is the air subsidence — this is when the air comes from upper atmosphere to the lower level, killing cloud developments because it is dry and cold.”
Another reason is that we are not getting too much moisture from the coastal areas because the prevailing winds are north-westerly, which are dry and cold, which stops cloud formations,” said the Met Office.
“There is 100 per cent humidity in the coastal areas, resulting in early morning fog. But when you move inward about 30 to 50 km from the coast or in the areas of Hajar Mountains or Dakhiliyah governorate, there is a lack of humidity. The relative humidity in the areas of mountains is very low,” they said.
According to the Met Office official, the trough or low pressure moves from west to east. But when Turkey, northern Iran, northern Pakistan and northern India experience the trough, it is unable to reach the Gulf because of high pressure.
“In the previous years too, the winter rains came in the middle or the second half of the winter. This weather condition is normal and all we need is a trough or low pressure that will reach the Gulf.  In summer, there is no low pressure and the troughs are far away going to north and it does not reach us.  In winter, the situation is different and the trough comes closer to south.”
Normally, low pressure during the winter moves from west to east. But when there is a dominant high pressure in the Arabian Peninsula, the low pressure cannot reach the Gulf. Instead, it will move to the northern parts.
What Oman needs now is the development of low pressure.