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2018 Asia spring forecast: Tropical storms to threaten Philippines to eastern India; Drought may build from eastern Turkey to Kazakhstan

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
February 26, 2018, 8:15:26 AM EST

A threat from tropical storms is most likely from the Philippines to the east coast of India, while building drought may impact agriculture over the Volga Valley region of Russia during the spring of 2018.

During the transition from winter to summer, tropical threats will arise. Monsoon rains may arrive early in some locations but may be delayed, fizzle or fail to materialize in others.

Static Asia Spring 2018

Spring tropical storm threat greatest from Philippines to Vietnam

"During the spring of 2018, weak La Niña conditions are projected to linger," according to AccuWeather Tropical Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski.

La Niña is a swath of below-normal water temperatures near the equator of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. This cool water has a major influence on weather pattern across the globe, but especially so in the tropics.

"On one hand, you have above-normal water temperatures surrounding the Philippines, which enhances tropical storm development and intensity," Kottlowski said. "But on the other hand, La Niña creates more disruptive winds aloft over the western Pacific, which limits development and may affect intensity of tropical storms and typhoons."

Because of these factors AccuWeather meteorologists are focusing on the area of development from the Philippine Sea to the South China Sea during March, April, May and early June.

The Philippines to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos may face the greatest threats from tropical storms and typhoons such as flooding rainfall and/or damaging winds and seas.

Early outlook on 2018 western Pacific Typhoon season

As far as the entire typhoon season, a key will be how the La Niña/El Niño cycle progresses over the next several months.

"At this time, AccuWeather is projecting the number of tropical storms, typhoons and super typhoons to be near to slightly below average for 2018," Kottlowski said.

Static 2018 Typhoon Forecast

"There is some indication that there may be more direct major impacts on the Philippines and Japan, when compared to 2017."

Indian Ocean: Areas bordering Bay of Bengal at greatest risk for early-season cyclone strike

In terms of tropical storm impact over the Indian Ocean basin, fairly typical numbers and impacts are likely during the spring of 2018.

"During the pre-monsoon months of April and May, there is the potential for multiple tropical depressions and a cyclone or two over the Bay of Bengal," AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

"There is also the possibility of a couple of depressions forming over the Arabian Sea during April and May, but the chance of landfall from western India to Oman and Yemen is very low," Nicholls said.

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Alert raised for significant drought in Russia's Volga Valley

A northward bulge in the jet stream combined with an area of high pressure in lower part of the atmosphere is likely to lead to a progressively drier weather pattern from the Middle East to part of Turkey and Kazakhstan.

Much of the northern part of this zone received little snowfall over the winter.

It is the slowly melting snow and storms in the spring that help to replenish soil moisture necessary for a successful agricultural season.

"As this pattern evolves, it could become a major problem for winter grains coming out of dormancy and the germination and growth of summer crops from central and eastern Turkey to the Volga Valley of Russia," Nicholls said.

AccuWeather's long-range team of meteorologists expect some opportunities for rain from western Turkey to the western part of Ukraine.

Early spring rains are also anticipated over Israel, Syria and part of Jordan, with some rain and snow events for the mountains from northern Iraq to Iran and Afghanistan.

As these rounds of precipitation track to the north, episodes of gusty winds may generate dust storms during the early spring from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and northwestern India.

"Areas from Saudi Arabia and Yemen to much of India will be mainly dry with building heat this spring," Nicholls said. "However, there is the potential for significant pre-monsoonal rains in southern and eastern India that may help to trim the heat during late April and May."

Static AP India Heat 2017

Indians stand in line to get cold drink being freely distributed by a roadside on hot summer day in New Delhi, India, Monday, June 5, 2017. Much of northern India experienced an intense heat wave with the temperature crossing over 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit). (AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal)

Storms packing moisture to track from central China to northern Japan

In southeastern Asia, a number of locations will trend drier due to fading La Niña conditions, while storms bring moisture to others.

"Malaysia and Indonesia can still expect the usual scattering of showers and thunderstorms for at least the first part of the spring," Nicholls stated.

Southeastern China, Taiwan and southern Japan, including Tokyo, are expected to be drier and warmer than average this spring.

"The onset of the eastern Asia monsoon may be delayed by a couple of weeks in southeastern China and Taiwan," Nicholls said.

Rain is likely to be plentiful farther northwest.

"An active storm track is forecast to keep central and northeastern China, including the key crop areas of the North China Plain, as well as the Korean Peninsula and northern Japan well-watered much of this spring," Nicholls said.

The most active storms are likely to be during March and into April.

Episodes of snow are projected to persist in northeastern China, northern Japan and part of the Korean Peninsula during the first part of the spring. It is not uncommon for winter to linger in this area.

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