Announcing the so-called stage-2 long rage forecast for Southwest Monsoon 2023, the India Meteorological Department said rainfall during the June-September period is likely to be 96% of the long-term average, with an error margin of +/-4% of the long period average.
In April, the weather office had predicted monsoon rains to be 96% of the long-term average, but with an error margin of +/-5% of the long period average.
India defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 87 centimetres for the four-month season beginning June.
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However, the seasonal rains over Northwest India is likely to be ‘below normal’, IMD said. For other parts of India though such as Northeast India, Central India and South Peninsular India, IMD expects normal rainfall that will be 94 to 106% of LPA.
“If rainfall distribution is equal that is an ideal scenario, but monsoon rainfall does not happen like that. If we get an equal distribution then agriculture will not be impacted much in India this year,” IMD scientist D S Pai said.The IMD said there is a “high probability” of development of El Nino conditions during the monsoon season. However, the weather office said there is no one to one relation between El Nino and monsoon.
El Nino is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. A poor monsoon is linked to El Nino activity.
The monsoon, as expected earlier, is expected to make its onset over Kerala on June 4.
The rain forecast is precariously placed on the lower end of the margin and a slip from there would mean below-normal rainfall, which will spell trouble for the economy. Also, the forecaster’s first long range forecasts (LRF-1) are usually slightly less accurate than the second long range forecast (LRF-2).
The Southwest monsoon irrigates more than half of India’s farmlands, which eventually is key for the economy’s well being and our daily lives. India’s agriculture sector is the main source of livelihood for some 60% of its population and which accounts for about 18% of the economy. Nearly half of India’s farmland, which has no irrigation cover, depends on annual June-September rains to grow crops such as rice, corn, cane, cotton and soybeans.
It is crucial for the weather office’s normal monsoon prediction to come true, as the Mint Street and New Delhi are still fighting intense price pressures amid global recession risks.
Private weather forecaster Skymet had predicted a “below-normal” southwest monsoon on account of El Nino conditions with a 60% of chance of drought. Rain during the June-September monsoon is expected at 94% of the long period average (LPA) of 868.6 mm, with an error margin of 5%, according to Skymet.
The monsoon is also key to the country’s inflation trajectory, as adequate rains will boost crop output and lower food prices.
“We will have uncertainty in the forecast but that is taken care of by the model error,” Pai said.
The 2023 June rainfall average in the country is expected to be below normal (