Thanks to the positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which brought to the country 13 per cent above normal rains in September and negated the adverse impact of El Nino on monsoon, India has received 94 per cent of the long-period average (LPA) of 87 cm rainfall this season. With the prediction of normal rainfall during October–December and the continuation of positive IOD for the next three months, the sowing of rabi crops may not be impacted and provide much-needed relief to the government amid a possible drop in the output of many kharif crops.
According to IMD, rainfall between 90-95 per cent of LPA is considered ‘below normal’ and 96-104 per cent of LPA is categorised as ‘normal’.
Addressing the media on Saturday, director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, said that the high level of rainfall (49 per cent surplus) received in the central region in September is a big relief as most of the region is rainfed. He admitted that IMD could not capture the intensity of positive IOD for this region, as it was predicted to receive below-normal rainfall.
Among the States, Manipur has the highest 46 per cent deficit rainfall, followed by 34 per cent in Kerala, whereas Himachal Pradesh was 19 per cent surplus and Gujarat got 18 per cent above normal in the season. Monthly rainfall across the country as a whole was 91 per cent of LPA in June, 113 per cent, each in July and September, and 64 per cent in August.
Commenting about the Northeast Monsoon, Mohapatra said rainfall over south peninsula (Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Kerala and south interior Karnataka) is most likely to be normal, which is 88–112 per cent of LPA of 33.4 cm.
He also said “normal to above-normal rainfall is likely to be seen over many areas of north-west India and the south peninsula. But the north-east region, east central, and adjoining areas may get below-normal rainfall.” Further, western parts of Gujarat, east Rajasthan, a few districts of Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh are likely to get below-normal rain in the next three months, according to the IMD forecast.
The north-west region is key to the production of rabi crops like wheat, mustard, and chana (gram), as the sowing season starts from October and continues until mid-January. The government has delayed announcing the first crop-out estimates of the kharif season amid concerns over some crops.
Predicting overall normal rain for October, IMD has said that most parts of the country are likely to receive below-normal rainfall. But south peninsular India, some areas in north-east India, and a few pockets in Jammu and Kashmir are likely to have above-normal rainfall.
The monsoon arrived over Kerala on June 8, which was seven days behind the normal date, and covered the entire country by July 2, six days ahead of the normal date. But its withdrawal began from west Rajasthan on September 25, with an eight-day delay from the normal schedule.