August rain, says Skymet, could be 88 per cent of the LPA or 'deficient' and September's could be 93 per cent, also below normal but slightly better
Private weather forecasting agency Skymet lowered its southwest monsoon forecast for 2018 to ‘below normal’ on Wednesday, at 92 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA).
It expects a prolonged weak phase in August and lower than normal rain in September, after which the four-month season would end. If true, this would hit the production of kharif crops, sowing of which was down almost eight per cent till last week.
In April, Skymet's first forecast was for a normal monsoon, at 100 per cent of the LPA, with an error range of five percentage points either way. For August, it had predicted rainfall of 96 per cent of the LPA and 101 per cent for September.
India Meteorological Department (IMD), the government body, defines normal rain as between 96 and 104 per cent of a 50-year average of 89 cm for the entire four-month season. So far, it hasn’t revised its forecast of rain being 97 per cent of the LPA, with an error range of five percentage points.
Experts said the early sown crops had reached the flowering stage and could start withering if rain remained weak for a longer than expected period.
August rain, says Skymet, could be 88 per cent of the LPA or 'deficient'. September's could be 93 per cent, also below normal but slightly better.
In June and July, the southwest monsoon was six per cent below normal, largely due to a break in rainfall during June, after it made a promising start. So far, rainfall has been normal on around 84 per cent of the country’s land and deficient in the rest.
“As of now, the oceanic parameters are not at all favourable for enhancing monsoon rains during the second half of the season," said Jatin Singh, managing director of Skymet. The rainiest pockets of both the northeast and the west coast were likely to perform poorer than usual, he added.
“This isn’t good news at all,” said Madan Sabnavis, chief economist at CARE Ratings. Kharif sowing area was already down due to low or delayed rain in some parts, he noted. If August and September rain was also not good, implications for the final harvest could be serious.
The southwest monsoon has revived over the east and northeast and this has lowered the overall shortfall in these parts over recent days to about 25 per cent, from a high of a little over 40 per cent. However, the spectre of drought still looms over Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha if the wet spell ends soon, followed by a long dry period.