Such unusual occurrences – called ‘blocking events’ – have taken place in the past, and have resulted in unusual weather phenomena.
This year, as the jet stream became stationary, unusually hot summers led to the breakout of wildfires in Western Russia, and unprecedented rains poured down the slopes of the Western Himalayas.
Torrential monsoon rains and the overflowing Indus River had killed at least 1,600 people, destroyed over a million homes, and displaced countless families.
There are many questions emerging from the recent floods in Pakistan, ranging from attempts to understand the atmospheric phenomena behind the downpours to the search for where ultimate responsibility lies for the ensuing human calamity.
The blocking event coincided with the summer monsoon, which brought unusually heavy amounts of rain on the mountains that girdle the north of Pakistan.
The intensity of the localized rainfall was fantastic – four months worth of rainfall had fallen in just a couple of days.
The Indian monsoon can be understood as a giant sea-breeze, with ocean moisture sucked in by rising hot air over the South Asian plains.
It is influenced by large scale weather patterns such as the jet stream in the northern hemisphere, which this year came to a halt as a consequence of Rossby Waves, powerful spinning wind currents created by the earth’s rotation.
Water planning as it has been practised in Pakistan certainly carries benefits for some segments of the rural communities, specifically those rich farmers who own the farming lands.
When key pieces of infrastructure such as barrages fail, however, innumerable people’s lives can be plunged into utter distress.