El Nino, a weather anomaly that causes abnormal rains, could re-appear this year but its precise impact on India’s monsoon is still hard to gauge at present, official meteorologists have told HT.
An El Nino weather pattern had triggered India’s 2009 drought, the worst drought in three decades, shrinking farm output. Summer rains are critical for India, Asia’s third biggest economy, because two-thirds of Indians depend on farm income and 60% of farmed areas do not have any source of irrigation, other than monsoon.Farm ministry officials said a drought-like situation was "unlikely" and the decision of the government Wednesday to set up a group of ministers to manage the farm economy in the event of a drought was a precautionary one.
The rain-bearing monsoon system, which develops over the Bay of Bengal, usually hits Kerala — its first port of call — in the last week of May in its four-month journey across India. The system covers the country within two months.
El Nino, meaning “little boy” in Spanish, is marked by an abnormal warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean and creates havoc in weather patterns across the Asia-Pacific region. It is the opposite of La Nina, or “little girl”, which cools ocean waters and helps rainfall.
“There is a slight chance of El Nino conditions taking over in the later stages of monsoon but what impact it could have will be known only around June,” a Met official said. Current conditions are normal, he said.
According to a preliminary forecast, Skymet, a private meteorological firm that supplies weather data to corporate clients and newspapers, there is a higher probability of a deficient monsoon. Its model found 70% probability of below-normal monsoon, which includes 20% likelihood of a drought.
During the previous two years, chances of a below normal monsoon was less than 5% according to the model adopted by the India Meteorological Organisation.