Western Maharashtra likely to get above normal rains in August, September
The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) probabilistic rainfall forecast for the remaining monsoon period shows a high chance of above normal rains in western Maharashtra. IMD’s forecast, released on Monday, also indicates that chances of above normal rainfall are higher in September.
The standalone forecast for August shows that above normal rainfall is most likely (35 to 45% probability) across a majority of the area along the coastline and Western Ghats. In addition, a combined forecast for August and September indicates a very high probability (greater than 75%) of witnessing above normal rainfall across these regions.
DS Pai, head of climate and research services at IMD Pune, concurred and advised authorities concerned to pay close attention to IMD’s short-range weather forecasts. “The first week of August will be quite dry, but the intensity of rains will pick up after August 7 and lead to a wet spell toward month-end. Even though the intensity of rains tapers off after July, there is still above normal rainfall in only about two weeks. So, officials should be ready in case a large quantity of rain is deposited in a matter of days or hours,” Pai said.
Forecasts issued by other meteorological centres, such as the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the USA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) also suggest that the monsoon in western Maharashtra will be more active in the second fortnight of August than the first.
Experts and officials warned that the ongoing subdued rainfall phase should be used to prepare for the possibility of heavy rainfall events in Konkan and surrounding regions for the remaining duration of monsoon, even though August showers are typically less intense than those seen last month. The broad action points raised include planning discharge of water from dams, ramping up relief and rehabilitation work and shifting people from landslide-prone areas. Adequate preparation will also involve ensuring that all automatic weather stations, rain gauges and doppler radars are working efficiently in addition to strengthening communications systems.
“In light of this forecast, authorities concerned must carefully plan the discharge of water from various dams in Konkan and western Maharashtra. Furthermore, a mapping of landslide-prone areas is crucial along with relocation of people from such areas,” said Akshay Deoras, independent meteorologist and PhD researcher at the University of Reading, UK. “My concern is that vulnerable mountains may have become more vulnerable. So you may not need that much rainfall now to trigger landslides. Such areas need to be immediately identified with the help of an expert committee of geologists. Furthermore, some rivers are still in spate, so the safety of people living near floodplains needs to be considered. Lastly, a strategic deployment of disaster response teams needs to be done now to improve disaster response time during the anticipated heavy rainfall events,” he added.
Experts also emphasised that authorities should expedite relief measures which are yet to be provided to persons already affected by last month’s floods, so that a backlog is not created in the event of another flood situation. “Another focus needs to be on cleaning up drainage channels and creeks which may currently be filled with silt after the floods. This will become harder to do once the rains begin,” said Pai.