Agri Business

Monsoon will be normal, onset may be delayed: IMD

T V Jayan New Delhi | Updated on April 15, 2019 Published on April 15, 2019

El Nino expected to subside by July

India is likely to receive a “near normal” South-West monsoon this year but its onset over Kerala could be delayed owing to the prevailing El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its first forecast issued on Monday.

The quantum of rainfall that the country as a whole would receive will be around 96 per cent of the long-period average (LPA) of 89 centimetres, with an error margin of 5 per cent, said Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary M Rajeevan, who briefed the media.

The IMD considers rainfall between 96-104 per cent of the LPA as normal.

The national weather forecaster has, however, not been getting its forecasts completely right of late. In the last six years, the forecast agreed with the actual rainfall only twice: in 2017 and 2014.

Some relief

The forecast of a normal monsoon will bring some relief across the country, particularly in those areas currently reeling under drought conditions.

With 60 per cent of the country’s fields being rainfed, the monsoon, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of annual rainfall, is critically important for farming and economic growth.

Last year, too, the IMD had predicted a normal monsoon, but the actual rainfall received subsequently turned out to be below par.

According to the Water and Climate lab of the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, which has been tracking drought conditions in India regularly, drought has been persisting over more than 40 per cent of the Indian landmass, with 17 per cent of the area under severe drought, as on April 9.

“A normal monsoon in an El Nino year is certainly good news,” said DK Joshi, Chief Economist with Crisil, but added that “its impact on the economy would be clear only if we know its regional and temporal distribution”. It is important to know “whether un-irrigated areas are going to get rain or not”, Joshi said.

According to D Shivananda Pai, head of the IMD’s long-range forecasting division, El Nino, caused by anomalous heating of seawaters in the Central Pacific Ocean, is expected to subside by July, giving rise to hopes of a normal monsoon. “The monsoon this year looks more like the one we received in 1969, another weak El Nino year. The rainfall received in 1969 was 100 per cent,” Pai said.

“El Nino may impact the onset of the monsoon over Kerala. But it’s a weak El Nino, so there is nothing much to worry. Moreover, the temperature anomaly in the Pacific is expected to come down by July,” said Rajeevan.

Chances of rainfall

The IMD said that there is a 49 per cent chance of the rainfall received being lower than what was forecast. One thing the forecaster was more confident about, however, was in predicting that the chances of rainfall being either above normal or excess are remote.

The national weather forecaster will issue its second stage forecast in the first week of June.




Published on April 15, 2019
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