OpinionOthers

Winter seems to have skipped Kuwait this year

By Shakir Reshamwala

By this time every year, there’s a chill in the air, heaters have been brought out from storage, and everyone is in their winter best, with nary a white dishdasha in sight. Usually, rains in November are a harbinger of colder days ahead, but this year there has been no rainfall and no sign of wintry weather. Sure, the climate is pleasant these days – even a bit cold in the mornings – but air-conditioning is still needed inside homes, offices and cars, particularly in the afternoon, when the temperature rises above 30 degrees Celsius (in some parts of Europe, 30 C is heatwave conditions).

Leading Kuwaiti meteorologist Adel Al-Saadoun said last week the rainy Wasm season – which begins on Oct 16 and ends on Dec 6 – has been delayed this year, adding this may be an indication of an especially cold winter. A few days ago, Saadoun predicted the weather will start getting colder with the arrival of the frigid Marbaniya season – which starts on Dec 7 and lasts until Jan 14. But until now, the weather is temperate and skies clear.

Is this due to global warming? Is climate change to blame? Surely this is not a one-off, as everyone agrees that winters in Kuwait have been getting shorter and milder. I still remember my childhood years in the ’80s, when the season was longer and colder. Getting ready for school in the morning was a fraught task. That kind of chilly weather is becoming rarer in Kuwait, as in recent years, it’s really cold for only a few days during winter – the weather then goes back to normal, and gradually starts getting warmer.

Kuwait has also been witnessing record summer temperatures in the past few years, with the mercury crossing the 50 C mark for weeks on end. This has led to desertification and rising sea levels, even as the population has been increasingly steadily – notwithstanding a dip due to an exodus of expats during the coronavirus pandemic – placing increased pressure on infrastructure and services and resulting in more vehicles on the roads. It doesn’t help that nearly the entire production of electricity and desalination of seawater in Kuwait is realized by burning oil, generating greenhouse emissions.

So, after all the heat and dust and a balmy winter, one is tempted to fly out to cooler climes and frolic in the snow. But repeated waves of coronavirus variants have put a dampener on these plans. The authorities have also cautioned people against travelling unnecessarily. Also, for many people, especially expats, it’s a huge risk to travel now, with memories of prolonged airport closures and lockdowns of last year and this year fresh on everyone’s minds. Amid all this uncertainty, lovers of cold weather and desert campfires can only hope the temperature drops in the coming days. Until then, they will have to suffice with cynical ‘Winter is Coming’ memes.

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