The southwest monsoon hit the Kerala coast on Tuesday, a couple of day earlier than its usual arrival in the first week of June. “Widespread rainfall occurred over Kerala during past two days and 78% of monitoring stations for monsoon onset over Kerala have reported rainfall for the last 48 hours,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a statement. The department also has noted that conditions are favourable for further advance of the monsoon (June-September) into the remaining parts of Kerala, coastal and south interior Karnataka, parts of Tamil Nadu and some more parts of northeastern states in the next three to four days.
The IMD had in its forecast two weeks ago had stated that the monsoon would reach the Kerala coast on May 30 with a model error of ± 4 days. In its first long-range forecast, the IMD had predicted that ‘normal’ rainfall this year at 96% of the benchmark long period average (LPA), with a model error of ± 5%. The department is likely to release its second long-range forecast for the monsoon on June 5.
Experts say that a normal monsoon is expected to give a boost to agricultural production as the majority of farmland is rain-fed, and improve water reservoir levels leading to improvement in the supplies of drinking water and higher hydel power output.
Meanwhile, private weather forecaster Skymet said: “Severe cyclone Mora has played an important role in the arrival of monsoon over Indian region.” It stated that the progress of the monsoon will be satisfactory in the coming days and it will move ahead as per schedule. “We expect the monsoon to advance further between June 5 and June 10. It is likely to cover entire Kerala, Tamil Nadu, parts of Madhya Maharashtra and Konkan and Goa, Andhra Pradesh and remaining parts of northeastern states and some parts of West Bengal,” Skymet said.
IMD director general KJ Ramesh had recently told FE that “there is a relatively moderate possibility of El Nino conditions, which adversely impacts progress of monsoon rains, developing during second half of the monsoon months (June-September)”. Neutral conditions of Indian Ocean Dipole would likely result in “good distribution of rainfall across the country”, he had added.
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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. Thanks also to normal rainfall last year, the country’s foodgrain production in 2016-17 crop year (July-June) is estimated to reach an all-time record of 273.38 million tonnes (mt), which is 8.7% more than in the the previous year.
Due to two consecutive years of deficient monsoon rains (2014 and 2015), foodgrain production went down to 252 mt in 2014-15 and 2015-16 crop years from 265 mt reported in 2013-14. The southwest monsoon comprises around 70% of the country’s annual rainfall.