Monsoon rolls down curtain of rain over west coast

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Odd upper trough forecast to reach southward may cast a shadow in the near term

Vinson Kurian

Thiruvananthapuram, May 31

Monsoon rains have panned out true to predictions made last week, with torrential rains swamping the southwest coast where the current is disruptively active now.

Speaking to

Business Line

, Dr Akhilesh Gupta of the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) said the Arabian Sea arm got split into two marauding jets that whizzed perpendicular to each other on Tuesday/Wednesday around the same time over Kochi and Ratnagiri respectively.

The results more than proved the accuracy of the `hind casting' made while the twin cities of Ernakulam/Kochi got nearly blown away by gale-force winds, rain and sleet, Ratnagiri was pummelled by 61 cm of overnight rain.

The cloudburst bore down with such fury that closely resembled the July 2005 Mumbai drencher.

Mr Jim Andrews of the US-based AccuWeather had observed last week that he would not be surprised to see a curtain of rain falling at one or two places on the west coast.

He had ventured to quantify it around 50 cm, if not more, as a wide swath of intense rain inched its way from the high seas towards the coast.

Writing to

Business Line

on Wednesday, he said: "Yes, I saw the storm results for Ratnagiri and I have to wonder if somewhere nearby did not have much more rain. I also see that Mumbai has had its first downpours. Our references show that monsoon break at Mumbai is more like June 10. Thus, monsoon break has happened at least one week early along most of the Arabian Sea coast."

Replying to a question on what he made of forecasts that the monsoon current might weaken after two or three days, Mr Andrews said he didn't see any cause for early panic.

"That the rains should wane after a few days given that it is still before the usual starting time is not to me, in itself, a foreboder of inadequate rains especially where they are needed most for crops."

"There is an odd upper trough forecast to reach southward out of, say, Afghanistan. This might rather `throw a spanner in the works' for the near term, but not necessarily for the season's rainfall as a whole," he added.

A slightly weak current

Meanwhile, Dr Gupta said the forecast for the Arabian Sea current stood `modified' to being a `slightly weak current' by the weekend and not necessarily `shutting out' as stated in these columns.

Simultaneously, there is a possibility that the Bay of Bengal arm may get strengthened, especially with a `low' being forecast to form over the Head Bay.

But models differ on the likely course the `low' might take, with vital implications for the monsoon system. It is doubtful if it would move west, to trigger rains into the farming heartland of the country.

Instead, it's highly likely that it will stagnate over the seawaters for sometime, weaken and cross over into land.

There's yet another distant possibility that the system might spin away in a north-northeast direction and prove the weatherman's nightmare in robbing away available moisture to rain it down over Bangladesh/Myanmar. The NCMRWF is keeping a close watch on its movement, Dr Gupta said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 1, 2006)
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