The much expected monsoon is likely to hit Kerala as usual on June 1. But the quantity of rainfall may be ‘below normal’, according to sources at India Meteorological Organisation (IMD).
While the formal announcement over the onset of monsoon is expected on May 15, the IMD authorities say it is expected on time based on the progress of wind towards the Indian subcontinent.
However, the government has planned contingency measures in case there is deficit rainfall this year. “Our contingency steps are ready for 580 districts. We had faced a similar situation last year. We have, accordingly, asked states to be ready with their support structure on the ground,” said an official.
It may be noted that IMD had on April 22 warned that India would receive ‘below normal’ monsoon rainfall during June-September this year. This would affect summer crops and further worsen the situation marred by the recent unseasonal rains and hailstorms.
“The monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 93% of the long period average (below normal scenario) with a model error of plus or minus 5%,” the IMD said in its first forecast.
The long period average (LPA) of seasonal rainfall over the country for the period 1951-2000 is 89 cm which is taken as standard base to categorize the monsoon. Rainfall range of 90-96% of the LPA is considered ‘below normal’ whereas 96-104% range is taken as ‘normal’ monsoon.
Last year too, IMD had predicted ‘below normal’ monsoon rainfall which eventually turned out be worse, recording ‘deficient’ (below 90% of the LPA) rainfall during June-September 2014. There was a 12% deficit of monsoon rainfall last year but timely action from the agriculture ministry and states minimized the impact.
IMD will come out with its updates comprising region-wise predictions in its second stage forecast in June. Initial predictions indicated that there may be less rain in northwest and central parts of the country as compared to south India. IMD officials indicated that 70% of El Nino scenario will continue during the monsoon and the expected lower rainfall could be because of this.
Despite the drought situation in many parts of the country and 12% deficit rainfall during the last monsoon, India achieved foodgrain production of 257.07 million tons which is only about 3% lower than the record foodgrain production achieved in 2013-14.