Normal monsoon to bring relief to Modi government in election year, as El Nino threat pushed back

By: | Updated: December 14, 2018 11:59 AM

The El Nino event predicted by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ABM) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now looks likely only well after the Indian monsoon season is over.

Good monsoons were already recorded in 2016 and 2017, and 2018 is set to be the third consecutive year when the official weather agency has got its forecast correct.

India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) forecast of a ‘normal’ rainfall in 2018 is turning out to be correct for third year in a row, as the current monsoon season has turned out to be reasonably favourable so far. The Met department’s predictions were correct for the past years 2016 and 2017 as well.

The southwest monsoon has been reasonably good one so far this year, an Indian Express report said, adding that this runs contrary to the earlier fears that a possible El Nino would result in weaker rainfalls in the region. The El Nino event predicted by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ABM) and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) now looks likely only well after the Indian monsoon season is over.

The report said that if IMD’s forecast of a third successive normal monsoon is vindicated, that would also be a matter of relief for the Narendra Modi government, just ahead of the general elections in 2019. The current floods in Kerala are not as threatening in an election year, as the now-remote prospect of a 2014 or 2015-like drought. As predicted by the IMD, 2014 and 2015 had recorded below-normal monsoons. Good monsoons were already recorded in 2016 and 2017, and 2018 is set to be the third consecutive year when the official weather agency has got its forecast correct.

During the current monsoon season from June 1, the country as a whole has cumulatively received an area-weighted average rainfall of 605 mm as on August 22, which is only 6.5% below the historical long period average of 647.3 mm. The currently recorded rainfall is well within the “normal” departure range of 10% on either side. In addition, so far in all the three months of the current monsoon season, rains have been normal, which makes it as good a monsoon as was seen in the years 2016 and 2017.

The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is “currently neutral”, with the warming thresholds expected to reach “by the end of the year”, the ABM has concluded in its latest assessment. El Nino is an abnormal warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean Waters and is seen to adversely impact the monsoon rains in India. On similar lines, the NOAA sees ENSO-neutral conditions to prevail through July-September, “with El Nino favoured thereafter”.

You may also like to watch video: El Nino Seen Arriving Too Late To Hurt India’s Monsoon Rains

Thus, the chances of El Nino striking during June-September, i.e. the monsoon season, look remote. The adverse impact of El Nino, even if it strikes, is always felt with a lag. The fears of private forecasters like Skymet seem overblown, as the agency predicted rainfall during the second-half (August-September) to be poor because of El Nino.

The report said much of the country has received enough rains for farmers to take up kharif sowing operations, except Bihar, Jharkhand and the North-East states. Some areas have experienced dry spells, affecting crop growth at the vegetative growth phase, such as Marathwada, North Karnataka, Saurashtra-Kutch and North Gujarat. However, the situation is nowhere as serious as it was during the drought years of 2014 and 2015.

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