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Unusual storm breaks weather in Afghanistan

Photo: Boys swim in a flooded field in Kandahar, Afghanistan on Thursday, June 28, 2007. (CP PHOTO, Stephanie Levitz)

June 28, 2007
AFGHANISTAN - this week's storm over the Gulf of Oman was an "absolute monster." "This storm is an anomaly in that it hit us. Much like how (hurricane) Juan hit Halifax, how the tornadoes in Edmonton hit in '87. On a climatological scale, these things don't happen - these areas aren't prone to getting hit." The storm swirled up on Tuesday, unleashing wind and rain throughout Afghanistan over three days, including a three-hour crackling thunderstorm that at times was hard to discern from the roar of military aircraft. The usual rainfall this time of year for southern Afghanistan is zero. By late Thursday night, 40 millimetres had fallen. In parts of Afghanistan, the impact of the storm was severe; Afghan National Police and coalition soldiers rescued 42 people Wednesday who were trapped on rocks in the province of Kapisa, in the eastern part of the country. Further east, in Pakistan, the provincial relief commissioner estimated that some 200,000 houses were destroyed or damaged. More than 800,000 people have been affected by floods from heavy rains and overflowing rivers and dams. In Kandahar City on Thursday morning, the storm cut off power and phone access for thousands of people, bogging down side streets and main arteries throughout the city. Farmers especially were worried about the UNUSUAL weather. One grape farmer mocked a westerner who was enjoying the respite from the heat, saying the rain would certainly ruin what had looked to be a bumper crop this season. The region is entering the season known as the Wind of 120 Days, an arid blast of air that sweeps over from Iran, and unstopped by the vast desert of southern Afghanistan, rips across the country with gale-force strength.

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