IMD says monsoon in August-September to be 'normal', contradicts Skymet

Days after private weather forecasting agency Skymet lowered its forecast for the 2018 southwest monsoon season to ‘below normal’, the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD) said rain in August and September would be ‘normal’ at 95 per cent of the long-period average (LPA).

The IMD, however, used a different parameter than what it usually considers for full season forecasts. The latest forecast is with a model error of plus and minus 8 per cent. 

IMD Additional Director General M Mohapatra, defended the different parameter and said for the August-September period the normal limit was 94-106 per cent of the LPA.

The IMD has said rain was not only expected to be normal in August but might also be higher than what was predicted in June, at 96 per cent of the LPA.

In June, when the weather office came up with its forecast for regional distribution, it had said rain in August would be 94 per cent of the LPA. 

During the past two months, the IMD said there was a 63 per cent chance of the monsoon being normal and 47 per cent of it being ‘below normal’.

"Mid-season rainfall realised till the end of July suggests that distribution of rainfall is good over all parts of the country except Bihar, Jharkhand and the northeastern states. Favourable distribution of rainfall is expected to continue for rest of the monsoon season," the IMD said. A normal monsoon in the last two months and favourable distribution could aid kharif planting. 

The difference between kharif sowing in the previous year and this has steadily decreased, as the monsoon has progressed over East and Northeast India. The overall deficit has remained at 6-7 per cent. 

However, area under urad, groundnut, castor and cotton cultivation has been lesser than last year’s due to a shift towards more lucrative options.

“"The area under cultivation is lower across almost all crop categories except sugarcane. If this is not reversed, the possibility of lower production looms. This can upset inflation numbers. The next few weeks will be critical as reversal of trend looks unlikely," CARE Ratings said on Friday.

On Thursday, the meteorological department said the southwest monsoon was expected to be ‘normal’ to ‘above normal’ over East and Northeast India in the first week of August. Thereafter, its presence will increase along Northwest and South India, the department added.

In June and July, the southwest monsoon was 6 per cent below normal due to a break in rains after it had made a promising start. So far, the rains have been normal in around 84 per cent of the country.

Meanwhile, the latest data from the Central Water Commission shows that the water level in the 91-odd reservoirs is rising. During the week ended August 2, it was 45 per cent of the full capacity. 

Since July 19, the water level in reservoirs has increased by over 13 per cent. This should augur well for rabi season, mainly in those parts that are dependent on reservoirs for irrigation.

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