Depression over Andaman Sea likely to help timely onset of monsoon: IMD | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Depression over Andaman Sea likely to help timely onset of monsoon: IMD

ByJayashree Nandi
May 05, 2022 11:10 AM IST

A normal monsoon is critical as half of Indians depend on farm-derived income and nearly 40% of India’s net-sown area does not have access to irrigation

New Delhi: The depression likely to form this month over the Andaman Sea will support monsoon advancement and help the June to September rain-bearing system known as the lifeblood of India’s economy arrive around the normal time in Kerala around June 1, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Thursday.

The monsoon normally arrives in Kerala around June 1 and covers the rest of India by mid-July. (HT PHOTO)
The monsoon normally arrives in Kerala around June 1 and covers the rest of India by mid-July. (HT PHOTO)

Ananda Kumar Das, who is in charge of IMD’s cyclones monitoring, cited satellite imagery and said the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), which appears as a band of clouds encircling the globe near the equator and is responsible for the wet and dry seasons in the tropics, is very active. He added this indicates a monsoon surge will be established soon. “The depression will help establish the cross-equatorial flow. The formation of the depression will eventually also help monsoon arrive around the normal time over Kerala around June 1 with an error margin of +/-5 days,” said Das.

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The monsoon, which normally arrives in Kerala around June 1 and covers the rest of India by mid-July, brings about 70% of India’s annual rainfall. A normal monsoon is critical. Half of Indians depend on farm-derived income. Nearly 40% of India’s net-sown area does not have access to irrigation. Half of India’s farm output comes from summer crops dependent on the monsoon.

The rains have to be robust and evenly spread across states for good farm output as global food prices have hit record highs due to a shortage amid the Ukraine conflict. A subpar monsoon cuts farm yields, output, and farm incomes. It increases India’s dependence on food imports. A robust monsoon will help put a lid on food inflation by increasing the domestic output.

Food inflation reached 7.7% in March 2022, the highest since November 2020. The prices of vegetables (10.6%) and oil and fats (20.7%) grew in double digits. The wheat prices have jumped significantly because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Millions of farmers depend on the monsoon when they begin summer sowing of key crops such as rice, sugar, cotton, coarse cereals, lentils, gram, and edible oils.

IMD last month said the monsoon is likely to be “normal” at 99% of the long period average (LPA) with an error margin of +/-5%. It will be the fourth consecutive “normal” or “above normal” monsoon. IMD’s forecast this year of 868.6 mm is based on 1971-2020 data. It replaces the earlier normal of 880.6 mm based on 1961-2010 data. While the rainfall would be “normal”, India may well get less rain than it used to a decade ago.

IMD director general M Mohapatra said the monsoon normally arrives in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in mid-May and that conditions are becoming favourable for the timely onset supported by the development of a low-pressure system. “Our extended range forecast is also showing good rainfall in the region from mid-May.” He underlined it is important to remember these are transient systems. “We need to closely monitor how the low-pressure system will affect the wind flow. We are hopeful.”

Mahesh Palawat, the vice president (climate and meteorology) of private forecaster Skymet Weather Services, said it seems the monsoon will be on track, making onset around its expected time. He added there could be some delay in the onset in case an anti-cyclone forms after the movement of the depression.

Akshay Deoras, a meteorologist at the UK’s University of Reading, said the monsoon normally reaches the southern Andaman Sea around 15 May. “...[it later] covers the entire Andaman and Nicobar Islands by around May 22. This year, weather models are suggesting that a strong low-pressure system will form over the Bay of Bengal later this week, which would help in the establishment and strengthening of monsoon winds over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the next week,” he said. He added they can thus expect a timely onset of the monsoon. “In fact, there is a good possibility of it happening beforehand.”

IMD’s extended-range forecast shows good rains over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and parts of the south Arabian Sea between May 12 and May 25.

Some weather models have indicated the development of two cyclones around the same time. One of them is expected to move towards the central Bay of Bengal and another towards the north-western coast of Australia.

Deoras said they can expect the formation of twin low-pressure systems near the equatorial part of the eastern Indian Ocean later this week. “Both these systems will be in different hemispheres and move away from each other as if they are mirror images of each other. ...The formation of such twin cyclones is fairly common in May, which is due to westerly wind bursts.”

Separately, no significant change in maximum temperatures is likely in most parts of northwest India during the next two days. A rise in temperatures by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius is expected thereafter.

Under the influence of a western disturbance, scattered to fairly widespread rainfall with isolated thunderstorms, lightning and gusty winds (speed reaching 40-50 kmph) are likely in the Western Himalayan region during the next two days.

IMD said a cyclonic circulation is lying over South Andaman Sea and the neighbourhood. Under its influence, a low-pressure area is likely to form over the same region around May 6. IMD said it is very likely to move north-westwards and intensify gradually into the depression during the subsequent 48 hours. Under its influence, heavy rainfall is likely in Andaman and Nicobar Islands on May 5 and 8. Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall is expected in the Andaman Islands on May 6 and 7.

Das said they expect the depression to intensify further to a deep depression and possibly further to a cyclone and move towards north Odisha and West Bengal coasts. “Until a well-marked low is formed, we cannot give the exact track of how it will move or whether it will impact the coast.”

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