Skymet says monsoon will be below normal
Deficient rain in India, the world’s second-biggest producer of rice, wheat and sugar and top grower of cotton, can lead to lower crop output and spur imports of commodities like edible oils, pulses and sugar.
Private weather forecaster Skymet revised its monsoon rain forecast from normal to below normal on Wednesday, and said India was up against a 25% chance of drought.
Skymet had in April predicted that rainfall in the June-to-September monsoon season will be 100% of the Long Period Average (LPA), with an error margin of plus or minus 5%, but revised it downward to 92% of the LPA.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) considers the monsoon to be normal when rainfall is 96-104% of the 50-year average of 887 mm, also called the LPA.
The IMD, in its April forecast, and a subsequent update in May, said rainfall would be normal across the country at 97% of the LPA with a model error of plus or minus 4%.
“It is too early, it has only been two months, the monsoon rain totals can change in a matter of one week,” KJ Ramesh, director general of IMD said of the revision by Skymet. “The El Nino will emerge only after the monsoon season is over, there is no update from any international agencies suggesting otherwise.”
El Nino is a complex Pacific Ocean weather phenomenon that has a global impact on weather patterns and is usually associated with droughts in India. Rains were 95% of the long period average (LPA) for June and 94% of the LPA in July, Skymet said. However, in August they are expected to dip to 88% of the LPA as opposed to Skymet’s original prediction of 96% and perform marginally better at 93% of the LPA in September.
“In the next six to seven days, rainfall will be very less over south, central and western India. It will only be good in north and north-east India,” Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist at Skymet Weather, said. “In the next one week, the cumulative deficiency may widen to 10% from the current 6%.”
Multiple factors are contributing to the trend. “There is an evolving El Nino, which will adversely affect rainfall and the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is not supporting either,” Palawat said. Abnormal warming of the Tropical Pacific ocean leads to El Nino conditions. MJO is a major fluctuation in tropical weather. A positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole, an irregular oscillation in sea-surface temperatures in different parts of the Indian ocean, is linked with a good monsoon. Above-average temperatures in the western Indian ocean with corresponding below-average temperatures in the eastern Indian ocean is termed a “positive” phase.