The southwest monsoon is likely to arrive over the Kerala coast earlier than the first week of June, which is usual, as the India Meteorological Department on Sunday said rains have advanced to the south Andaman Sea and the Nicobar Islands.
“In view of the strengthening and deepening of southwesterly winds, persistent cloudiness and rainfall, the southwest monsoon has advanced into some parts of the southeast Bay of Bengal, the Nicobar Islands, the entire south Andaman Sea and parts of the north Andaman Sea,” the IMD said in a statement. Usually, after entering the Andaman sea, it takes about 10 days for the monsoon to reach over the Kerala coast.
The met department also said conditions are favourable for further advance of the southwest monsoon into some parts of the southwest Bay of Bengal, remaining parts of the Andaman Sea, the Andaman & Nicobar Islands and some parts of the east-central Bay of Bengal during the next 72 hours.
IMD director-general KJ Ramesh last week told FE that the met department stood by the first monsoon forecast released last month, where it had predicted ‘normal’ rainfall this year at 96% of the benchmark long period average (LPA), with a model error of ± 5%. The IMD will release the second forecast for the season in the first week
Ramesh had said “there is a relatively moderate possibility of El Nino conditions”, which developing during the second half of the monsoon months (June-September) adversely impact progress of monsoon rains, and neutral conditions of the Indian Ocean dipole would likely to result in “good distribution of rainfall across the country”. Subsequently, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said prospects of a strong El Nino developing in the Equatorial Pacific have receded.
Experts say a normal monsoon is expected to give boost to agricultural production as majority of farm land are rain-fed and it boosts water reservoirs levels leading to improvement in supply of drinking water and higher hydel power output.
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Last year, the IMD had made an initial forecast of ‘above normal’ rainfall of 106% of the LPA, but the actual cumulative rainfall was 97 of the LPA, which falls in the ‘normal’ category. Because of normal rainfall last year, food grain production in 2016-17 crop year (July-June) is estimated to reach a record of 273.38 million tonne (MT), 8.7% more than the previous year. Due to two consecutive years of deficient monsoons , food grain production went down to 252 MT in 2014-15 and 2015-16 crop years from 265 MT in 2013-14.