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‘Interior Maharashtra could witness dry spells, below average rainfall this monsoon’

The probability of below average rainfall appears to be more in Marathwada and central Maharashtra, said meteorologist Akshay Deoras

mumbai Updated: Apr 17, 2018 15:45 IST
Mumbai,Mumbai news,weather
The southwest monsoon over Mumbai is officially identified for four months – June to September.(HT File)

While the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted a normal southwest monsoon for the country this year, independent meteorologist to the state government said the probability of below average rainfall and dry spells cannot be ruled out in interior Maharashtra.

Akshay Deoras, meteorologist and independent meteorological advisor to the Maharashtra government, said preliminary estimates suggest that Konkan coast and most of Vidarbha could expect normal seasonal rainfall but the probability of below average rainfall appears to be more in Marathwada and central Maharashtra, especially during the months of July and August.

He said dry spells during crucial monsoon months affect agricultural produce. “Dry spells are natural phenomenon and part of the monsoon but their frequency and duration in Maharashtra have been a matter of concern over the last few years. Hence, instead of blindly considering a national rainfall average figure, farmers must consider factors like dry spells and rainfall distribution while planning,” said Deoras.

The southwest monsoon over Mumbai is officially identified for four months – June to September. According to IMD, the southwest monsoon hits Kerala by June 1 and the onset date for Maharashtra and Mumbai are between June 8 and 10.

For the third consecutive year, IMD on Monday said the seasonal rainfall for the country is likely to be 97% of the long period average (LPA) with a model error of plus or minus 5%, which means 97% of near normal showers. The probability of normal to excess rains is 56% (42% normal, 12% above normal and 2% excess forecast probability) and below normal and deficit rain is 44% (30% below normal and 14% deficient).

“It is not necessary that the all-India normal will be applicable for Maharashtra. It is a matter of concern that the possibility of below normal rainfall for interior Maharashtra as a result of the phenomenon when sea surface temperatures starts warming in the Pacific Ocean but not, El Niño conditions (see box) per say, rainfall tends to get suppressed in the Marathwada and Madhya Maharashtra region,” said Deoras. “This phenomenon is being observed along the Pacific currently, and this heating is expected to increase. We observed a similar phenomenon in 2014 and last year, which suppressed rainfall and led to dry spells.”

IMD officials said region wise forecasts have not been issued so far, and will be done only during the second phase of monsoon outlook in early June. “Now, there is weak La Niña condition (cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, which is opposite to El Niño), and we are expecting this condition to convert into neutral El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) condition during the monsoon season, which will pave way for normal rainfall for the entire country. Region wise forecast will only be available closer to the season,” said Mrutunjay Mohapatra, head of climate services, IMD.

IMD in Nagpur had decided to keep a follow-up press briefing on monsoon predictions for Maharashtra and central India on Monday. However, they decided to call it off as the IMD New Delhi only issued country-wide monsoon forecast, said officials.

“IMD uses weather models, charts and supercomputers based World Meteorological Organisation standards and state of the art technology from Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. To use the same framework for region-wise prediction, with changing weather synoptic situations globally, takes time. As of now we should not issue predictions, as that will worry farmers in central India. We should wait till accurate forecasts are ready,” said AD Tathe, scientist, IMD Nagpur.


Weather conditions you should know about

Extreme sea surface temperature conditions over Pacific and Indian Oceans are known to have strong influence of the southwest monsoon over India. Some of the weather conditions that affect this are as follows:

El Niño is a weather phenomenon caused when warm water from the western Pacific Ocean flows towards the east. Globally, it rains where the water is warm. If the Pacific warms up, the precipitation shifts in that direction weakening monsoon currents in other parts of the world.Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon in the Indian Ocean wherein the difference in sea surface temperatures characterized by cooling in the south eastern equatorial Indian Ocean and warming in the western equatorial Indian OceanLa Niña conditions include cold ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific, which is opposite to El NiñoEl Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) - irregularly periodic variation in winds and sea surface temperatures over the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean affecting much of the tropics and subtropics


What you need to know about El Niño’s relations with droughts in India

· Since 1871, 8 prominent droughts in India have been El Niño triggered

· Recent droughts that occurred includes 2002, 2009, 2014 (El Niño like situation) and 2015

· Rainfall is generally below the normal average during an El Niño year, which severely affects crop production

· According to the World Meteorological Organisation, about 90% of all El Niño years have led to below normal rainfall and 65% of evolving El Niño years has led to droughts.


Day temperatures expected to touch 38 degrees Celsius in Mumbai on Wednesday

The weather bureau issued a forecast for the city that states that the maximum temperature could touch 38 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, which would be almost 5 degrees Celsius above normal. “A change in wind pattern to warm easterly winds will allow temperatures to rise but from Thursday onwards a marginal decline is expected. This is a seasonal phenomenon and there is nothing out of the ordinary about such temperatures,” said KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, India Meteorological Department.

First Published: Apr 17, 2018 15:25 IST