Agri Business

Bountiful August stood between potential monsoon disaster and smart recovery: Skymet’s GP Sharma

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthauram | Updated on August 26, 2020 Published on August 26, 2020

A truly magnanimous August may have saved the blushes for the ongoing South-West monsoon as it prepares to enter September, the last month. Excess rain of +22.6 per cent so far (until Tuesday, and counting) in the August perhaps stood between a potential monsoon disaster and a smart recovery after a setback in crucial July.

“Whatever surplus we have for the country as a whole (around 108 per cent) is all because of August,” says GP Sharma, Vice-President, Meteorology, at private forecaster Skymet Weather. Surplus for the month had gone up to +23.7 per cent on Monday before it slid back to +22.6 per cent, Sharma told BusinessLine.

 

June surprises in upside

The first monsoon month of June had surprised on the upside, delivering a surplus of +18 per cent. Expectations soared high into July, normally the rainiest month and crucial from the point of Kharif sowing, but proved a huge let-down with a sub-par performance, leaving a deficit of 10 per cent in the bargain.

So July had forfeited the early advantage that June had secured for the monsoon, and combined with none-too-good early days of August, the June surplus of 18 per cent had well and truly neutralised. “Now, this moment was epochal. The monsoon could go either way. We might well have been staring at the bottom of the barrel,” Sharma said.

Having been made to start from scratch, it was unreasonable to expect fireworks in August. But that is what exactly the second rainiest monsoon produced into the second week. And from there, there has been no looking back, with the Bay of Bengal working like a well-oiled machine churning out rain-generating low-pressure areas one after the other.

 

 

August begins on bare slate

So much so, despite starting on a bare slate, August has brought in a surplus rainfall of 49 mm so far. “The actual extent of its contribution becomes visible only when one compares it with the surplus rain for the country a whole,” Sharma said. The surplus for the country as whole has been 49.6 mm so far, of which August alone accounted for 49 mm.

“There are very few such Augusts during the last many years, one can count on one’s hands when the month has delivered surplus of +20 per cent or more. The last time it happened was 1983, when it was 21 per cent. If you look back to 1950, there are only very few such occasions. It is indeed one of the rainiest August that we’re going through,” he added.

The same holds true for the number of low-pressure areas generated during the month. July did not see a single low-pressure area while August has seen at least five of them. “I won’t call it unprecedented, but it is one of the rare things. July and August normally see two to three. Chances are very less that we get to four. I’ve seen 100-year data, but four have been very few.”

Low-pressure areas on a high

This August has been very special here also, with five, Sharma said. And that’s what kept the tempo of the monsoon so far. Otherwise, there was a scare of a monsoon-break happening in the month. But one low after the other from the Bay did not give even the ‘break’ a chance here. “In fact, we haven’t seen any significant break during this monsoon.” Sharma said.

He doesn’t expect September to be that rainy. “In any case, we’re going to end up above-normal this season. Do we touch last year’s 110 per cent or above? Here, September holds the key. But the rainiest days are over for us for sure. Gone are the days when we had daily average rainfall of 9-10 mm. In Sept, it comes down to 7.5 mm to 8 mm and towards the end to 5 mm.”

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Published on August 26, 2020
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