Winter settled heavily over the Hindu Kush, the mountains that curve through Afghanistan and cut into Pakistan and Tajikistan. Northern Pakistan saw itï¿½s heaviest snowfall in 30 years, the worst of it coming during the first two weeks of February. The heavy snow has devastated all three countries, literally crushing houses and buildings and burying communities in avalanches. Tajikistan alone experienced more than 100 avalanches in populated regions after two meters of snow fell in the mountains. Officials in northern Pakistan report that 270 have died in the snowfall and avalanches, and nearly as many more have been injured. Deaths in Afghanistan have been attributed to extreme cold and related illnesses.
This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image, acquired on February 16, 2005, by NASAï¿½s Terra satellite, shows the extensive snowfall across southwest Asia. The image is in false color to differentiate between cloud and snow, with snow in dark red and clouds in lighter orange. Vegetation is dark green, while bare desert soil is blue-green. Clouds still blanket northern Pakistan where the storm rages on. Tajikistan is entirely covered in snow, and the central mountainous region of Afghanistan is similarly blanketed in snow. The widespread snow has cut off many of the regions in need of aid, particularly in Afghanistan, where food shortages have driven up prices in areas where food was already scarce.
NASA image created by Jesse Allen, Earth Observatory, using data obtained from the MODIS Rapid Response team.
Harsh winter conditions continue to take a toll on Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan as heavy snow and avalanches bury or isolate communities. These MODIS images show the extent of the snow cover in February 2005.