The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday said the south-west monsoon, which accounts for about 70 per cent of India’s annual rainfall, will be above normal, said M Ravichandran, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences. If proved correct, it will be fourth time in last six years when the country will have more than normal rainfall.

The spatial distribution shows monsoon rainfall will be above normal in most parts of the country except some areas over North-West, East and North-East India, where “below normal” rainfall is very likely, he said in a press conference on long-range rainfall forecast in the monsoon season (June-September). 

Rainfall during June-September will likely be above normal and higher. It will be 106 per cent of the long-period average (LPA) of 87 cm, with a model error of (+/-) 5 per cent, he said. According to IMD, rainfall between 105 and 110 per cent of LPA is considered “above normal” and between 96-104 is categorised as “normal”. Monsoon was above normal in 2019, 2020 and 2022.

Last year IMD had predicted 96 per cent rainfall and monsoon ended with 94 per cent precipitation, which falls under “below normal” category.

According to the rainfall map, shown in the presentation by IMD DG M Mohapatra, Odisha, south Chhattisgarh and south West Bengal are expected to experience below normal rains. Sources said that coastal Odisha may see drought like conditions. In the north-west region, Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Himachal Pradesh may see below normal rainfall.

On the other hand, Tamil Nadu, western Uttar Pradesh, north West Bengal and most parts of Bihar may have above normal to excess monsoon rains this year, the sources said.

“The above normal rainfall will definitely help farmers to expand the area. The states where reservoir levels are much lower than normal levels will get water to fill those and will be able to supply adequate irrigation water to farmers,” P K Singh, union agriculture commissioner, told business line.

He also said that good rainfall will help farmers to save costs on irrigation. However distribution and interval of rainfall will be the key factor. Asked about any possibility of crop damage due to floods or heavy rains in the harvesting period, Singh said it is premature to discuss as many other factors are to be watched out. “Overall it will be a big boost to Indian agriculture in 2024,” he said.

IOD may develop

El Nino, which emerged in June 2023 resulting in deficient rainfall and resulting in drought in parts of the country, will weaken further and result in ENSO-neutral by beginning of the monsoon season. A weak La Nina, which may bring in heavy rainfall and floods, will emerge during second half of monsoon season (August-September), IMD said. 

Signals from the Pacific are favourable for above normal rainfall. He said the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions, currently at neutral stage, are likely to develop during the latter part of monsoon. Northern hemisphere snow cover was below normal, which may also help India to witness better monsoon rainfall, said Ravichandran. 

Most of the conditions statistically are favourable, he added. IMD will issue the next update of the monsoon forecast in the last week of May and the onset prediction will be issued in mid-May. Normally, monsoon hits the Indian coast in Kerala on June 1 and covers the entire country by July 8.