Bringing bad tidings for the country troubled by scorching summer heat, the Met department on Sunday predicted 6-day delay in the onset of monsoon which was scheduled to hit Kerala coast on June 1.
“The statistical model forecast suggests that the monsoon onset over Kerala in this year is likely to be slightly delayed. The southwest monsoon is likely to set over Kerala on 7th June with a model error of ± 4 days,” the India Metereological Department (IMD) said.
Pertinently, forecast of monsoon onset issued during the past 11 years (from 2005-2015) except 2015 has proved to be correct. This includes the error margin of plus or minus 4 days.
IMD director General Laxman Singh Rathore said the delay in the monsoon onset was not an ‘unusual’ phenomenon. He, however, said there would be some relief to South Indian states from the intense heat as there could be some rain fall there in the coming days.
“Currently there is a low pressure area in the Bay of Bengal which will become a depression and hit Tamil Nadu coast by tonight. This will bring good amount of rainfall to the state, parts of South Interior Karnataka and parts of Kerala,” Rathore said.
Last month, IMD had predicted above normal rainfall this year at 106% of the benchmark Long Period Average (LPA), with a model error of ±5%. This comes after two successive years of deficient monsoon. According to agriculture ministry’s third advance estimate released recently, the country’s food grain production in 2015-16 is pegged at 253.23 million tonne (MT), compared with 252.02 MT in 2014-15.
The last two years’ deficit monsoon rains have already resulted in depleted water levels in the country’s 91 large reservoirs. Till last week, the water level in these reservoirs were at only 19% of their capacities while last year the water level were 30% of their capacities.
“.. .conditions are becoming favorable for the onset of southwest monsoon over Nicobar Islands, south Andaman Sea and parts of south Bay of Bengal around 17th May and advancement over the entire Andaman Sea close to its normal date,” according to IMD statement.
Last week, the private forecaster Skymet had stated that the south-west monsoon is likely to reach Kerala coast at least couple of days ahead of usual schedule of June 1. “Monsoon is likely to reach over Andaman and Nicobar Islands between May 18 and May 20. Thereafter, southwest monsoon is likely to arrive over Kerala between May 28 and May 30, simultaneously covering some parts of northeast India,” Skymet had said in a statement.
According to Skymet, monsoon will cover most parts of south India and entire northeastern states by first week of June. It also predicted that eastern arm of the monsoon will move on a faster pace as compared to its western arm. “The monsoon is expected to reach Kolkata by June 10. While, Mumbai will have to wait little more and is likely to witness onset with a short delay between June 12 and June 14,” the private forecaster noted.
Advancement of monsoon, according to Skymet is expected to be slow over Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Most parts of these states will be covered by June 25.
The monsoon rains are critical to India’s farm sector as 55% of farmland continues to be rainfed. The monsoon rains are crucial for kharif crops like paddy, pulses and oilseeds and help boost soil moisture for the rabi crop.