The monsoon has been 2% below normal, rather than surplus, as predicted, despite a season of floods taking hold in several states of the country.
The annual rainy season that runs from June through September has, however, been active and fairly well-spread, which augurs well for rural incomes and food production after two years of drought.
States or regions that have recorded deficient rainfall are Andaman and Nicobar, most of the northeast, Kerala, Gujarat and Punjab. In terms of distribution, 64% of the total area in the country has got normal rainfall, while 16% has recorded deficient rainfall. About 20% has seen excess rains, the reason for the flooding.
The monsoon is said to be average or normal if rainfall is between 96% and 104% of a 50-year average of 89 cm for the entire four-month season. The India Meteorological Department had forecast monsoon rains at 106% or above normal.
The slightly below-normal monsoon appears remarkable with widespread flooding in states, such as Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, and swollen rivers.
“The flooding is more due to more consistent rains. The main reason is water discharged from dams which are full after heavy rains in Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand,” a weather official said.
Floods are common in many parts of India even when the monsoon is normal.
A slower-than-predicted La Nina, a weather pattern marked by a cooling Pacific that boosts rains in India, has kept the monsoon from being surplus.
According to data from the IMD, the country has received 647.5 mm rainfall between June 1 and August 24, against a normal of 663.5 mm. The official weather bureau has forecast the rains to be above normal.
A near-normal monsoon is a blessing, as surplus rains could have damaged crops and led to more severe flooding.
From an agricultural point of view, the rains have progressed well, with 30 of the 36 meteorological divisions receiving normal to excess rainfall. Until August 19, farmers had planted summer crops on 99.3 million hectares, up 5.8% compared to the same period last year.