This helps add vital soil moisture, though persisting thunderstorm and occasional hailstorm might not helped the cause of standing Rabi crops in the plains of Northwest India.

But soil moisture in the plains and snowfall in the hills have significant bearing from the viewpoint of the performance of the southwest monsoon season later in June, just in case.

But initial outlook given out by a few global agencies favour a timely onset of monsoon this year, and its orderly progress at least in the initial phases, other things remaining constant.

The one thing that can clearly tip scales is the behaviour of that treacherous stretch of the Equatorial Pacific during the all-too-important March-April-May when hazarding a guess on an El Nino or a La Nina sets a moral hazard! The ocean behaviour becomes too unpredictable during this season.

The 2012 monsoon proved a leveller for all forecasting agencies, except a few that chose not to go the whole hog. What proved the ultimate game-changer was a late emergence of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which mimics the Indian Ocean version of El Nino-La Nina events in the ocean basis that is closest to the Indian landmass and therefore exerting direct influence on a concurrent India monsoon.

Positive IOD means anomalous warming of the West Indian Ocean (and cooling to the east) which promotes cloud building and storm development to the region from where the southwesterly winds bring in moisture towards the India landmass to be dumped in as rain. The development of this positive IOD escaped the attention of most forecasting agencies, except a privileged few.

And forecasts that did not factor in the IOD fell flat on their face. The Indian monsoon made a fantastic rally from August, wiping off deficit to a large extent.