Amid concerns over less snowfall in the hills in the country this year, the India Meteorological Department has said though it is a concern for tourism and some crops such as apples, there is also a positive side to it. It may influence the monsoon with good rainfall. A normal monsoon in 2024 is very crucial for the Government to keep the momentum in the farm sector going after a year of El Nino-induced deficient rainfall.

“In December and until now, there has been no active western disturbance and it has affected the western Himalayan region. Two active western disturbances caused rains in the plains of north-west and some parts of central India. This has resulted in almost dryness in the hills, except Uttarakhand, this month,” India Meteorological Department’s Director-General M Mohapatra told businessline.

He, however, said there is an inverse relationship – if snow cover is less, subsequent monsoon becomes better. Last year, when everyone was predicting a big drop in rainfall, the monsoon was not that deficient (except in August) and the low snow cover in the Eurasian region aided rains in India.

Mrutyunjay Mohapatra ,IMD ,Director General of Meteorology,

Mrutyunjay Mohapatra ,IMD ,Director General of Meteorology, | Photo Credit: KAMAL NARANG

A crucial monsoon process

Though monsoon in the entire season was 6 per cent deficient, there was 13 per cent surplus rain in July and September while June witnessed a 9 per cent deficit and August 36 per cent deficit. Had August rainfall been similar to June level, the monsoon could have been normal, experts said. Karnataka and many parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh received deficient rainfall.

After ENSO conditions in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), the third large scale process which also governs Indian monsoon is the Eurasian snow cover (ESC), which was less in 2022-23 winter (December-February).

IMD’s 1st outlook

First available projections of summer weather for India this year (2024) from major global forecasters seem to suggest regionally variable hot conditions and normal to above normal rainfall from February to May as currently strong El Nino conditions moderate. The first two months (June and July) of the ensuing monsoon, too, may witness normal to above-normal rain, with at least one model suggesting this trend may continue into August as well.

These forecasts are indicative at best — neither are they conclusive nor do they represent the final word on evolving weather patterns during the period, overshadowed as they would be by El Nino conditions over the Equatorial Pacific. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) will come out with its first definitive outlook for the season by mid-April.