Most parts of India likely to get normal rainfall as IMD ups 2021 forecast

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday upped its 2021 monsoon forecast to 101 percent of the Long Period Average (LPA), meaning most parts of the country can expect to get normal to above normal rainfall.

Rainfall between 96-104 per cent of the LPA is considered a normal rainfall. The forecast is with a model error of plus and minus 4 percent. The above normal forecast excludes except parts of East and North-East India.

The Long Period Average (LPA) of the four-month southwest monsoon season that starts from June is 88 centimeters.

Releasing the second stage forecast for 2021 monsoon season, IMD said that the forecast has been revised upwards due to prevailing neutral El Nino conditions along with neutral Indian Ocean Dipole, the two weather systems that have a direct bearing on the performance of southwest monsoon in India.

In its first stage forecast released in April, the IMD had said that the 2021 monsoon is expected to be normal at 98 per cent of the LPA.

The forecast was with a model error of plus and minus 5 percent.

Region-wise, the IMD said that North-West India is expected to get normal rains at 92-108 per cent of the LPA, while Central India is expected to get above normal rainfall at more than 106 per cent of LPA.

Southern India is expected to get rainfall in between 93-107 percent of LPA while North-East India is expected to get below normal rainfall at less than 95 per cent of the LPA.

Some experts said that a below normal rainfall in Northeast India is not always harmful as the daily average rainfall in these parts, and the overall quantum is higher than other parts of the country.

The rain-fed areas of the country are expected to get more than 106 percent of LPA rainfall in the four-months.

This should augur well for oilseeds, pulses and coarse cereals farmers as the rainfed region has very low irrigation penetration.

Month-wise, forecast for which was released for the first time by IMD, the met department said that in June, the southwest monsoon is expected to be normal at 92-108 per cent of the LPA with Central and North-East India getting normal rains, while North-West India expected to get below normal rains.

A good, well distributed and timely monsoon will mean another year of bumper farm production in 2021, which could have a cascading positive impact and one less reason to worry for an economy battling another wave of COVID-19 infections.

The met department from this year has added a new forecasting model to make monthly predictions of the progress of southwest monsoon along with its spatial distribution, which will start from June end.

“For generating monthly forecasts, IMD will now use a dynamical Multi-Model Ensemble (MME) framework instead of present statistical models. Monthly probabilistic forecasts for all four months (June to September) will be prepared during the last week of previous month using the MME forecasting system,” the met department had said.

Few weeks back, private weather forecasting agency Skymet had also said that the southwest monsoon in 2021 is likely to be ‘normal’ at 103 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA).

Skymet’s forecast was also with a model error of plus and minus 5 percent.

If both IMD and Skymet’s forecast come true, it would mean that for the third consecutive year, India will have a normal to above normal rainfall during the monsoon months.

In 2020, actual rainfall across India was 109 per cent of LPA, while in 2019, it was 110 per cent of the LPA.

Last time, India had three consecutive years of normal monsoon, was in between 1996 to 1998, more than two decades back.

Buoyed by the good rains, the total foodgrains harvest in 2020-21 is estimated to be over 300 million tonnes which was an all-time high harvest. 

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