Private weather forecaster Skymet, which had accurately predicted 2023 monsoon rainfall, has said the monsoon in 2024 could be normal and quantitatively 102 per cent of the long period average (LPA) of 87 cm, with an error margin of (+/-) 5 per cent.

In April 2023, Skymet predicted monsoon rainfall to be “below normal” at 94 per cent of LPA and the June-September season ended with 94.4 per cent precipitation. However, the rainfall in August 2023, which was 36 per cent lower than normal, could not be predicted by any agency. Rainfall between 96 per cent and 104 per cent of LPA is considered ‘normal’ while rainfall between 90 per cent and 95 per cent is categorised as ‘below normal’.

A normal rainfall this year may help farmers in deficient States such as Karnataka and Maharashtra facing water shortage in many places to plan sowing of kharif crops, which starts from June with the arrival of monsoon, on time.

Even distribution?

According to Skymet, there is a 65 per cent probability of monsoon either to be normal or above normal while 35 per cent chance of it turns out to be below normal or deficient. As almost every monsoon season, the rainfall is normally skewed geographically, with some parts receiving lower rainfall even if the country as a whole witnesses above normal precipitation, this year it could be a good distribution across the country.

Skymet said that sufficiently good rains are likely in the South, West, and North-West regions and the core monsoon rainfed zone of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will receive adequate rainfall. Though Skymet said the meteorological subdivision of East and North-East India is likely to observe less than normal rains during the first half (June-July) of the season, it may not be of much impact since the region gets high rainfall in absolute terms — 137 cm considered normal. The normal rainfall in North-West region is about 59 cm. Only, there may be some initial problems seen in Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal where Skymet sees deficit rainfall during July and August. However, if there is good rainfall in June and September, a small deficit can be manageable, experts said.

In June, monsoon may be 95 per cent of the LPA of 16.53 cm, while Skymet has predicted 105 per cent of LPA of 28.05 cm for July, 98 per cent of LPA of 25.49 cm for August and 110 per cent of LPA of 16.79 cm for September.

El Nino remnants

The forecaster has predicted above normal rainfall in June over Kerala, Karnataka and Goa while normal rains may occur in other Southern States as well as Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

July, which is the wettest of the monsoon season, may see excess rains over Kerala, Karnataka and Goa and above normal rain in the north-west region, covering key rice producing Punjab, Haryana and west Uttar Pradesh. “El Nino is swiftly flipping over to La Nina and monsoon circulation inclines to be stronger during La Nina years,” said Jatin Singh, Managing Director, Skymet. Transition from Super El Nino to strong La Nina has historically tended to produce a decent monsoon, Singh said and added that monsoon season may start with risk of impairment, attributable to the remnant effects of El Nino.

“The second half of the season will have an overwhelming edge over the primal phase,” he said.

The India Meteorological Department will likely announce its monsoon forecast on April 15. It will help the government to decide the production target of foodgrains and other crops for the ensuing kharif season.