The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has marginally downgraded its earlier monsoon forecast for the year, but expects normal rains for July and August.

In its second-stage long-range forecast on Friday, IMD said the monsoon this year is most likely to be normal.

The quantitative rainfall over the country as a whole is likely to be 96 per cent of the long period average (LPA), said Mr L. S. Rathore, Director-General, IMD. The weather body had earlier predicted in April that the country would receive 99 per cent rains of the LPA.

The LPA pegged at 89 cm is the average of the rainfall received over the country during the four-month monsoon period for 50 years between 1951 and 2000. Normal monsoon means rainfall between 96-104 per cent of the LPA.

For the month of July, IMD said the rainfall over most parts of the country is likely to be 98 per cent of the LPA. For August the prediction is at 96 per cent of the LPA with a model error of 9 per cent, said the IMD.

Kharif sowing

Good rains during these months are crucial for the country’s agriculture as sowing of kharif crops is dependent on the monsoon.

The north-west region that includes Punjab and Haryana is expected to receive 93 per cent of its LPA, while in Central India the rains are forecast to be 96 per cent. The Peninsula will receive 95 per cent of its LPA, while the North-East will receive 99 per cent of rains.

Since the onset of monsoon over Kerala on June 5, the country has so far received a cumulated seasonal rainfall at 76 per cent of the LPA. The country has received a total of 73.7 mm rainfall as against the normal of 96.9 mm for the period of June 1-21.

The advance of the rains has been affected by a string of atmospheric storms in the South East Asian region. Stating that the slow progress in monsoon is likely to continue over the next four to five days, Mr Rathore said there is no cause for concern as yet.

The 24 per cent deficit rainfall has resulted in sluggish sowing of kharif crops like paddy, pulses, coarse cereals and oilseeds.

Spread so far

So far, the monsoon has covered extreme south Gujarat, most parts of Maharashtra, entire Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal and Sikkim, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Bay of Bengal and some parts of east Madhya Pradesh and east Uttar Pradesh.

IMD maintained that there is a strong possibility of emergence of El Nino during the second half of the season during September. El Nino, caused by warmer sea surface temperatures over Pacific Ocean is known to have strong influence on the monsoons, affecting the rains.

IMD will issue the next forecast for the second half of the season (August to September) in July.

(This article was published on June 22, 2012)
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