Water levels in the lower parts of rivers in the central and Central Highlands regions are likely to recede to record lows during this year’s dry season, according to the National Centre for Hydro-meteorological Forecasting.

In the central region, the water level of rivers running from Thanh Hoa to Ha Tinh provinces is projected to be 30-80 percent lower than traditional averages from late March to August. Meanwhile, it will be 60-80 percent lower than averages in areas from Quang Binh to Binh Thuan provinces, and 80-90 percent lower in areas from Khanh Hoa to Ninh Thuan provinces.

The river water level in the Central Highlands will be 20-40 percent lower than traditional averages, the centre forecasts.

Widespread water shortages and drought will last until August or September from Nghe An to the north of Binh Thuan province, and until early May in the south of Binh Thuan and Central Highlands provinces.

From late March to May, the water level of the Mekong River’s lower branches will continue to decrease and be 0.1-0.2m lower than traditional averages in March and April, the forecasting body said.

As a result, saltwater intrusion will become a serious issue in the coastal areas of these regions, it noted, adding that the high salinity of 4 grams per litre will cause water to intrude 40-60km deep into the mainland and even 70km at some points over time in the southern region.

In the northern mountainous region, flash floods and landslides will possibly occur more frequently this year with vulnerable provinces including Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Son La, Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Tuyen Quang, and Bac Kan.

The forecasting centre said nine or ten storms and tropical depressions will occur in the East Sea this year, compared to the average of 12. Four or five of these will directly hit the Vietnamese mainland.-VNA