Rain batters India in rare monsoon sprint

Updated on Jul 06, 2022 12:28 AM IST

Over the next few days, heavy to very heavy rainfall, with some spells of extremely heavy rainfall, is likely over the Konkan region and Goa, and isolated extremely heavy rainfall is likely over south Gujarat and over ghat areas of Maharashtra, the IMD said in its forecast.

Rain batters India in rare monsoon sprint (AFP)
Rain batters India in rare monsoon sprint (AFP)
ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi:

Heavy rain hit large swathes of India on Tuesday, inundating parts of the country’s west coast and impacting states in the Himalayan region, the east coast, the southern peninsula, and parts of northwest India, as dark monsoon clouds raced across the country in an unusually early and active phase of the annual rainy season.

The rains brought India’s financial capital Mumbai to its knees as the Konkan region in particular and the west coast in general, stretching from Karnataka to western Gujarat, recorded spells in the extremely heavy (above 20cm), very heavy (11.5cm-20cm) and heavy (6.4cm-11.5cm) categories.

The downpour triggered landslides and flashfloods in these regions, and as far away as Uttarakhand and Jammu. The state government in Uttarakhand, where flooding and landslips often block connectivity, cancelled all staff leaves and closed schools to brace for rain damage, while authorities in Jammu paused the Amarnath yatra over similar fears.

At play is the formation of a low-pressure area originating off Odisha, which has now gradually moved north and west, inwards into the country. This pattern, experts said, effectively activates the monsoon, which typically goes through phases of inactivity even after covering the country.

Also read: Southwest monsoon covers entire India as IMD predicts widespread rainfall today

“There are active monsoon conditions over the entire country and this will persist for the next 10 days as per model forecasts. Whenever a low-pressure area forms over Bay of Bengal or over Odisha and moves west, north-westwards, there is widespread and heavy rain all along its path. Another strong system is likely to develop over Bay of Bengal after the present one moves away. In fact, the forecast is that low pressure systems and circulations are likely to form one after another this month. So, the rain outlook is good,” said M Mohapatra, director general, India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The monsoon covered the entire country on July 2, six days in advance, and the low-pressure area formed over Odisha on July 3. The overall monsoon rain deficit, which stood at 8% at the end of June, shrunk to 2% on Tuesday.

The monsoon is the lifeblood for India’s agriculture and a good season of rains will be of immense economic relief at a time when the country is battling its worst spells of inflation. India recorded one of its driest Junes this year, which led to sowing being delayed.

“Normally sowing begins in June and is completed by end of June in many areas over west coast, central India and other parts of the country. But this year, it is a bit delayed because June rainfall was patchy. While heavy rains in July is good, if it is concentrated in a couple of days, sowing will be impacted,” said GV Ramanjaneyulu, executive director at the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in Hyderabad.

“Deluge-like conditions over a couple of days is not good for agriculture so the water management system needs to change. We need to find ways to harvest water so that it can be used in the dry days that will follow so that standing crop is not affected. The government should invest its resources in harvesting water for use of agricultural sector,” Ramanjaneyulu added.

Hardest hit on Tuesday was Maharashtra and Goa. “The Konkan coast from Palghar to Goa is experiencing an extremely heavy rainfall spell including parts of Thane and Mumbai, which recorded 12-17cm rainfall on Monday and Tuesday. It started from yesterday (Monday) evening with movement of a low-pressure area from south Jharkhand to west MP on Tuesday. It is further likely to move westwards towards Gujarat, so current rain spell likely to stay for another 48 hours. Also, now another cyclonic circulation has formed over Odisha coast,so active monsoon conditions will stay,” said R K Jenamani, senior scientist at IMD.

Also read: Spice of Life | Monsoon musings, mushy moments of mere mortals

A third expert too said the low-pressure area is now over Madhya Pradesh. “It is likely to move further westwards and reach south Gujarat on Wednesday or Thursday. So, on June 7 and 8 there can be extremely heavy rains over parts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai and Gujarat. This can cause flooding,” explained Mahesh Palawat, vice president, Skymet Weather, adding that such patterns typically happen later in July and August, the peak monsoon months.

The early onset will persist, Palawat too added. “Another low-pressure area is likely to form and will also take the same track and bring rain over west coast and central India. When low pressure systems travel west, they activate the monsoon surge over the west coast,” he said.

The southwest monsoon is largely a moisture-bearing system that flows in, as the name suggests, from the south and the west of the country. In itself, the moisture-laden system does not rain – it needs the low-pressure zones.

Palawat said the monsoon trough, also a band of low pressure, is at present south of its normal position, which is causing heavy rain over central India, and around July 11, when it starts shifting northwards, it will bring rain over Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi.

Also read: West coast, parts of central, north India get heavy rain as monsoon entered vigorous phase

These low-pressure areas are also called monsoon lows. “The monsoon lows may be intensified into monsoon depressions. The monsoon lows and depressions are the principal rain bearing systems of the southwest monsoon period over India. Substantial amounts of rainfall are generated by the westward passage of monsoon depressions forming in the Bay of Bengal. These are low pressure areas having wind speeds between 17 and 33 knots in their circulation,” the IMD says in its monsoon FAQs.

Over the next few days, heavy to very heavy rainfall, with some spells of extremely heavy rainfall, is likely over the Konkan region and Goa, and isolated extremely heavy rainfall is likely over south Gujarat and over ghat areas of Maharashtra, the IMD said in its forecast.

Widespread rainfall with isolated thunderstorm or lightning is also likely over Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit, Baltistan, Muzaffarabad, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh during the next five days with heavy rain predicted for Uttarakhand during July 7 to 9.

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