Monsoon to arrive late on June 4, 15% chance of drought, says Skymet

The first long range forecast of the IMD has predicted a monsoon season at the lower end of normal
The southwest monsoon will reach the coast of Kerala on June 4, three days after the normal date but within the normal range of delay, private forecaster Skymet has said.

In a situation that could add to economic worries owing to slowing rural demand and declining industrial production, it has maintained its earlier forecast and expects the rains to be poor this season — at 93 per cent of the normal.

The drought-affected regions of Marathwada and Vidarbha in Maharashtra, along with parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, will face nearly 9 per cent deficiency in the June-September rains.

Rajasthan, northern Karnataka and Rayalseema could also see poor rain, Skymet said. While the model error for the amount of rain is 5 per cent, that for the date of arrival is two days.

“All four regions are going to witness lower than normal rain this season. East and northeast India and the central parts will get poorer rain than northwest India and the southern peninsula,” Jatin Singh, managing director at Skymet, told reporters here on Tuesday.

The initial advance of the monsoon over peninsular India in June is going to be slow, the weather agency said. What does not augur well for the economy is that Skymet expects multiple agrarian regions to have a serious shortfall in rain.

On the other hand, observations by global weather agencies that show weaker El Nino conditions in the monsoon period could limit the scarcity to some extent. All long-range forecasts, however, are prone to error due to the complexity of the Indian monsoon system. Skymet’s forecast of a fully normal monsoon (100 per cent) last year was proven wrong when the actual rainfall turned out to be 91 per cent of the normal.

The official forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is also expected in coming days. The first long-range forecast of the IMD is that monsoon rain will be at the lower end of the normal. While the June rains are crucial for sowing in large parts of southern, western and central India, late arrival or poor June rain does not necessarily translate into poor seasonal precipitation as a whole, Singh said. Rain in July and August is the most important for crop output, which, according to Skymet, would most likely be below normal.

Rating agency CRISIL has cited the monsoon, along with oil prices, as a key factor in salvaging growth in the current financial year. Independent weather observers concurred with Skymet on the onset date. They said temperatures in the mainland dropped a bit due to a series of western disturbances, which are causing thunderstorms in Delhi and other states. This is delaying the development of low-pressure areas in central India and desert regions, they added.

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