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IMD expects monsoons to be near-normal this year

Livemint:  April 16, 2019

New Delhi: In its first long-range forecast for the south-west monsoon, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) today predicted that the monsoons will be near-normal this year.

M Rajeevan Nair, secretary Ministry of Earth Sciences, said India is going to have a near normal monsoon in 2019 as the south-west monsoon is likely to be near-normal.

He said that over a long period average (LPA), they expect 96% rainfall of 89 cm. LPA is the average of rainfall between 1951 and 2000, which is 89 cm. Anything between 90-95 per cent of LPA falls under the "below normal" category.

According to IMD's monsoon forecast, rainfall will be well distributed. The south-west monsoon makes its onset over India around May-end and is critical for the agriculture sector. The four-month rainy season contributes more than 70% of India’s annual showers.

According to the latest global forecasts, weak El Nino conditions have developed over equatorial Pacific Ocean and they are likely to persist this summer. However, IMD officials have maintained that these conditions would weaken after summer.

If El Nino retains strength and impacts monsoon rains in June and July, the first two months of the season, it could lead to delay in sowing of rain-fed kharif crops affecting overall crop production.

After facing droughts in 2014 and 2015, primarily because of the effects of El Nino, the monsoon rains improved in 2016 with India receiving normal rainfall in the four months between June and September.

Nair said IMD doesn't expect any adverse impact on the monsoons from El Nino.

In 2017, rainfall was near-normal, but the following year it dropped to 91% of the long period average (LPA).

Today's IMD forecast will be followed by a second long-range forecast in May, containing predictions for each of the meteorological sub-divisions.

In its early forecast, Skymet, a private weather forecasting agency, expects below normal monsoon rains from June through September. The agency said that it expects monsoon to be 93% of the long-term average. Skymet attributed developing El Nino phenomenon for its forecast of below normal monsoon.

A strong El Nino, marked by a warming of the sea surface on the Pacific Ocean, can cause severe drought in many regions like Australia, Southeast Asia and India, while drenching other parts of the world such as the US Midwest and Brazil.

The emergence of a strong El Nino triggered back-to-back droughts in 2014 and 2015.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.