This year’s southwest monsoon is likely to be normal. El Nino, the weather anomaly that caused last year’s drought, is expected to weaken, Met department chief Ajit Tyagi told HT on Friday.
“El Nino is waning. That’s a positive sign. Likelihood of another drought is low,” Tyagi said.
El Nino conditions still persist. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s current status issued on March 17 said sea temperatures remained at “levels typical of an El Nino event”.
India’s last three droughts (2002, 2004 and 2009) were all triggered by El Nino conditions.
But Tyagi said many international weather models had suggested El Nino was losing steam.
His department — working out prediction statistics — is set to make its official forecast on April 15. “At this stage, we don’t see anything gravely wrong.”
Even so, India has chalked out a robust kharif or summer crop plan, factoring in the probability of a repeat drought, farm secretary P.K. Basu said.
Winter wheat output is also set to reach record levels this year. “We expect a big surprise in wheat yield shortly,” he added.
Last year, the Met department had predicted a below-normal monsoon, and then twice downgraded forecasts midway. The patchy rains eventually were 22 per cent lower than average. Summer grain output fell by 14.2 per cent.