SEASONALLY changing winds are called monsoons or seasonal winds. The word monsoon is derived from the Arabic word mausim, which means “season”, referring to the seasonal reversals of the wind direction along the shores of the Indian Ocean and surrounding regions, especially in the Arabian Sea.
In our country, there are two types of monsoons: the southwest monsoon, which causes the rainy season, and the northeast monsoon, which causes cool and dry weather.
Regions that receive monsoons in the world include India, Myanmar, Indochina, Northwest Australia, some of the eastern coastal regions of Africa, and the northwestern region of South America.
Our country is north of the equator line and is the most northwestern country of the Southeast Asian mainland. It borders the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Meteorologists explain that monsoons occur because the land and ocean receive different temperatures from the sun, which is a seasonal change in the air. These winds blow into Myanmar from the southwest, so they are called southwest monsoon season winds.
To understand the formation of monsoons, one must know the nature of the atmosphere, which is that warm air tends to rise to the upper sky, while cooler air tends to enter from elsewhere. When the direct heat of the sun falls directly north of the equator, the vast landmasses of central Asia become very hot, while the Indian Ocean to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the east remain much cooler.
The hot air inland from Asia is then blown up into the sky in large numbers. The cold air from the south Indian Ocean begins to blow into the interior of Asia with great speed. When these winds reach the land, they meet the mountains and rise to the sky above, and the water vapour in the air condenses due to the coldness of the sky and then falls as rain.
As a result, it often rains heavily along the sea coast of Myanmar and in the mountainous areas. In Myanmar, the Southwest Monsoon blows every year from May to October, and it rains a lot during that time, which is called the rainy season.
Importance of rainy season
The rainy season plays a pivotal role in countries like Myanmar, where a large portion of the population depends on agriculture. Everyone enjoys the rainy season because it provides a much-needed respite from the scorching sun. It cools the environment by removing all the heat. It promotes the proper growth of plants, trees, grasses, crops, and vegetables.
It is also beneficial for animals, as there are plenty of green grasses and small plants to munch on.
Rainwater fills up every natural resource, such as rivers, ponds, and lakes, and is important for maintaining groundwater and natural resource levels. All living and non-living things rely on natural water, which is replenished throughout the rainy season to last until the following season.
Rainwater can also be used to generate energy, a process known as hydroelectricity. The water levels of the ponds and lakes tend to rise as a result of the rain, and small ponds are often built to collect rainwater and then used to create electricity.
Climate change impact in Myanmar
Climate change has impacted the monsoon season in Myanmar in a number of ways. Firstly, the intensity of monsoon rains has increased significantly in recent years, causing flooding and landslides that have caused significant damage to infrastructure, crops, and the environment.
Secondly, the timing of the monsoon season has shifted slightly, with rains arriving earlier in some areas and later in others, disrupting farming and fishing activities, as well as other industries that rely on seasonal weather patterns.
Finally, the monsoon season has become more unpredictable, with longer periods of dryness and extreme weather events such as hailstorms and tornadoes becoming more frequent. All of these changes have had a significant impact on Myanmar’s agriculture, economy, and people.
Myanmar experiences frequent tornadoes in the summer and pre-monsoon periods, but deaths are rare from such weather events. A tornado that tore through two villages in central Myanmar near the capital Naypyitaw killed eight people and destroyed more than 200 houses on April 21, 2023, according to local news sources.
Myanmar experiences extreme weather virtually every year during the monsoon season. In 2008, Cyclone Nargis killed more than 138,000 people.
Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Mocha was a powerful and deadly tropical cyclone in the North Indian Ocean which affected Myanmar and parts of Bangladesh in May 2023.
Different effects of the monsoon season on Myanmar
Agricultural Production: The monsoon season in Myanmar is of extreme importance for agricultural production. The seasonal rains provide much-needed irrigation for farmers, allowing them to grow a variety of crops, including rice, pulses, and vegetables. The monsoon season also helps replenish soil moisture, which is essential for crop growth and yields.
The monsoon season significantly increases the availability of water in Myanmar. With more water available, irrigation systems and water reservoirs are able to operate more efficiently, thus helping to ensure that water is available for agricultural, domestic, and industrial use.
The monsoon season can also increase the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery. The heavy rains can cause flooding and water contamination, leading to the spread of these diseases. As such, it is important to ensure that proper sanitation and hygiene practices are followed during the monsoon season.
Prepare for the monsoon season
1. Inspect the roof of your home and repair any damage to prevent leaks.
2. Trim trees and shrubs around your home to prevent them from falling onto your property during strong winds.
3. Clear rain gutters and drains to prevent water from overflowing onto your property.
4. Stock up on emergency supplies such as food, water, flashlights, and first aid kits.
5. Have a plan for where to go in case of flooding.
6. Prepare for power outages by having a backup generator or alternative source of power
7. Wear appropriate protective clothing when outdoors to stay dry and warm.
8. Invest in sandbags to protect vulnerable areas of your property from flooding.
9. Have an emergency plan for your family and pets in case of an evacuation.
10. Make sure all of your important documents are secure and in a safe place.