In 2013, the monsoon hit Kerala on June 1, two days ahead of the forecast, and the four-month long rainy season turned bountiful, pushing grains output to a record in the world's second-most populous country.
According to Met departments first forecast, the monsoon rains will likely be 95% of long period average (LPA), or just below the normal range of 96-104% of LPA. What is worrying is that even the first forecast gives a 23% probability of a deficit monsoon, which implies rainfall below 90% of the LPA, calculated on the basis of the average annual rainfall (89 cm) recorded between 1951 and 2000.
The first monsoon forecast for the year 2014 released in April by India Meteorological Department (IMD) gives another 33% probability to below normal monsoon and 35% chances for normal monsoon.
The met department's next forecast, the more definitive one since it comes after the onset of monsoon, will be announced in June.
Monsoon rains are crucial for agriculture as about 40% of the cultivable area is under irrigation and around 55% of the foodgrains production, mainly paddy and coarse grains, is contributed by kharif or summer crop. The monsoon rains during the June-September period also helps boosting the soil moisture for the rabi or winter crop.
Monsoon to hit Kerala 4 days late
(PTI) The southwest monsoon is likely to set over Kerala on June 5, four days behind schedule, the Indian Meteorological Department said here today.
The forecast comes with an error of plus or minus four days. The normal date of onset of monsoon over the state is June 1.
Last year as against the forecast of arrival of monsoon on June 3, the rains had actually arrived in Kerala on June 1. A year earlier, the monsoon had arrived on June 5.
The southwest monsoon is crucial for the farming community which heavily depends on the rainfall, particularly for kharif crops such as rice, soyabean, cotton and maize. The country's 60 per cent farm land is rain-fed.
The Met department had earlier said that the country could see below normal rainfall this year at 95 per cent rainfall because of the El-Nino effect which is generally associated with the warming of ocean water.
In a statement today, the Met department said the monsoon is likely to advance over Andaman Sea in the next three days as low-level cross equatorial monsoon flow has started appearing over south of Andaman Sea and adjoining south Bay of Bengal.
During the last few days, it said considerable increase in the rainfall activity over the Bay of Bengal has also been observed.
The cross equatorial flow is likely to strengthen and deepen, which in turn would lead to further increase in the rainfall activity over the area.
"It is likely to set over Kerala on June 5, with a model error of plus or minus 4 days", the IMD said.
Large parts of the country, which includes western, southern and northern India, will receive below normal rainfall, the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum (SACOF) has said but noted that the eastern parts (eastern UP, Bihar, Odisha, parts of Andhra Pradesh and almost the whole of Northeast India) will receive normal rainfall.
The seasonal rainfall is likely to be 95 per cent of the Long Period average with an error of plus or minus 5 percent.
The rainfall between 90-96 percent is catergorised as below normal and rainfall between 96-104 per cent is termed as normal rainfall.
Last year, the Met department had forecast 98 per cent rainfall but it exceeded and the country received over 106 per cent rainfall.