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 Niño 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 the third month (August) as well. 

Instrinsically uncertain

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 Niño conditions over the Equatorial Pacific. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) will come out with its first definitive outlook for the season by mid-April, past the intervening period marked by the ‘spring predictability barrier,’ when forecasts are known to be intrinsically more uncertain or less skilful.

South Korean agency outlook

Setting the trend is the deterministic MME forecast by the Korean model for February-March-April-May-June-July that sees enhanced probability for above-normal precipitation for India and the region spanning eastern Africa to the western Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal, Indonesia (the maritime continent). Strongly enhanced probability for above normal temperatures is predicted for the tropical region (including parts of India), the North Pacific, and Africa. Enhanced probability for above normal temperatures is expected for Eurasia, North America and Australia. 

February, March scenario

Month-wise projections for February indicates below-normal rain for Tamil Nadu, Kerala, South Interior Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and neighbouring Nepal. The rest of India is expected to receive normal to above normal rain. Temperatures may range between 0.5-1℃ above-normal for the entire country. In March, rains over Tamil Nadu may improve, but may be below normal over some areas in the state, while the shortfall will extend to coastal Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, as well as fringes along the international borders in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab and over Uttarakhand. Temperatures in March may be 0.5-1.0 ℃ above normal and even higher in parts of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir. 

Rain shortfall in April

According to the Korean agency, the first pre-monsoon month of April could likely be the month with the largest shortfall in rainfall, with the only likely exceptions being Kerala, West Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar. Temperatures, too, may shoot higher to 1.5℃ above normal - and 2-2.5℃ above normal in the case of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh. Exceptions are likely to be Gujarat, Kerala, South Interior Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Sikkim and Meghalaya, where it would be slightly lower. 

Bountiful rain in May
Enhanced rain possibilities for India (in blue) and parts of East Asia and the West Pacific (in brown) by the APCC, the South Korean forecaster.

Enhanced rain possibilities for India (in blue) and parts of East Asia and the West Pacific (in brown) by the APCC, the South Korean forecaster. | Photo Credit: APCC, South Korea

In May, rains may be deficient over Rajasthan, West Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and North-East India. It would be above normal over Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, East Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Possibility of excess rain is predicted for Coastal and Interior Tamil Nadu and South Interior Karnataka. Temperatures may be slightly lower over the South-East Peninsular India, adjoining East-Central India and North-East India. They may stay high over the western parts of Central India and North-West India, with the highest likely to record over parts of J&K and Ladakh. 

Good start to monsoon

The first monsoon month of June is expected to see normal to above normal rain for most of the country. Similar conditions are likely to extend into July, except parts of coastal Odisha where rainfall may be slightly lower. The Korean model sees enhanced probability of excess rain over the Mumbai-Konkan coast and parts of Telangana and Vidarbha. The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), too, indicates the possibility of normal to above-normal rain during May-June-July, with excess rain for entire peninsular India. Unlike the Korean model, it expects maximum pre-monsoon heating to take place over South India.

European, Japanese models

The UK Met Office assesses a 40-60 per cent chance for normal to above-normal rainfall for most of the country during April-May-June. The probability of above-normal rain is enhanced at 60-80 per cent for the western parts of South Peninsula (the West Coast as well as Coastal, North and South Interior Karnataka). The Application Laboratory of the Japanese national forecaster Jamstec has predicted normal rain for India during March-April-May. But June-July-August is likely to witness normal to above-normal rain for most parts of the country, including Peninsular India, western parts of Central India, and the West Coast as well as adjoining eastern parts of North-West India (mainly West Madhya Pradesh and East Rajasthan).