The ECMWF update is the very latest – made as late as February 22 (Friday) and the IRI’s dates back to a month (its February update is awaited). The ECMWF forecast speaks about a normal monsoon performance at least in the initial two months.

The rains could even get heavier over Central India and adjoining peninsula during April-May-June and May-June-July, which corresponds with the onset phase and the initial run that follows.

The IRI forecast (January-dated) is more circumspect, indicating ‘high probabilities for little deviation from what is considered normal rainfall trend’ for this period. Significantly, though, it does not see a deficit-like situation anywhere. Given this, IRI’s February update is something that bears watching.

The UK Met Office too has come out with what looks like almost similar offering from the ECMWF. The only difference is that it sees scope for more rainfall towards the eastern half of the country. ECMWF predictions favour a bulk of the rain to fall to the western parts – Maharashtra and adjoining Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka.

What comes as a great relief is the trend for intervening summer showers (March, April and May). North and Northwest India have already had a great run until now during this calendar year. The going is seen to be good for even the South, with an easterly wave crossing the Bay of Bengal expected to continue to bring much needed showers into Kerala and Tamil Nadu late into February ad early March.

In Kerala, the situation is becoming precarious with the reservoir level at Idukki, the largest, plumbing to new lows and holding enough water to sustain generation of power for less than 30 days as on today (February 23). The State depends mostly on hydro-electric power generated within for its needs, and finds it increasingly difficult to satisfy burgeoning demand.