Afghanistan's harsh winter is fast approaching
as the country braces for a U.S. attack
U.S. Water News Online
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- If U.S. forces launch a retaliatory
attack on Afghanistan soon, they should encounter some of the best
weather the remote country has to offer. In another two months,
things will change dramatically -- for the worse.
In a landlocked, mountainous nation of blistering hot summers and
snowbound winters, daytime temperatures recently in the capital,
Kabul, were in the mid-80s with clear skies.
Temperatures can vary widely from the deserts and plains in the
south to the towering mountain ranges in the center and the north.
However, autumn is one of most pleasant seasons in Afghanistan, a
country in Central Asia about the size of Texas.
Crops have been harvested. Summer temperatures that rose as high
as 107 degrees are no more. And rainy and cloudy skies are unlikely
in a country that is suffering one of its worst droughts in memory.
That means pilots combing the skies over rugged mountain passes in
search of suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and his
training camps should expect clear visibility this time of year.
In another two months, however, the weather should change
From November to March, snow blankets much of Afghanistan,
especially the mountain ranges that crisscross it. They include the
Hindu Kush and the Pamir Mountains, where temperatures plummet as low
as minus 40. Blizzards are common there.
Depending on the elevation, winter normally begins in late
October. There have been predictions of an early winter this year.
In northeastern Afghanistan, where bin Laden allegedly operates
training camps, the terrain is especially difficult.
The country is especially rugged in the Nuristan district of
eastern Kunar province, where bin Laden is believed to maintain a
base with an extensive communications network. The region is a wild
maze of narrow mountain valleys accessible only by foot trails. The
many passes which lead into Nuristan from all directions are blocked
by snow for most of the winter.
During their 10-year war in Afghanistan, Soviet forces took long
wintertime breaks from the fighting. Often, they hunkered down in the
mountains, waging an occasional offensive. But the Soviets -- long
skilled in winter warfare -- stayed mostly in cities and along main
roads until the spring thaw.
Conditions are more favorable in the south, where the hard-line
Taliban government maintains its headquarters in Kandahar.
The region is known for its lush plains and its deserts, and
temperatures there usually remain above freezing throughout the
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