Monsoon in India: Estimate revised by IMD to below normal

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Published: October 2, 2017 5:22 AM

As the southwest monsoon (June-September) “withdrew” on Saturday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has revised the season’s rainfall estimate to “below-normal”; it had earlier projected the rains to be “normal”.

Monsoon in India, IMD, southwest monsoon, Meteorological Department, rainfall estimate, monsoon season, kharif foodgrain production, monsoon rainfall, rain-deficitThe country recorded rains of 95% of benchmark long period average (LPA), while a range of 96-104% of LPA is considered “normal.”

As the southwest monsoon (June-September) “withdrew” on Saturday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has revised the season’s rainfall estimate to “below-normal”; it had earlier projected the rains to be “normal”. The country recorded rains of 95% of benchmark long period average (LPA), while a range of 96-104% of LPA is considered “normal.” Last year, the monsoon rains were normal (97% of LPA), while the previous two years witnessed “deficient” rains — 2014 (88%) and 2015 (86%). The rains were “above-normal” in 2013 (106%) and “below-normal” (93%) the year before. Parts of central India such as eastern and western Uttar Pradesh, eastern and western parts of Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra have received ‘deficient’ rainfall this season. These regions witnessed a significant shortfall in precipitation during the second half of the monsoon season.

The agriculture ministry last week estimated the country’s kharif foodgrain production will be 3% lower than last year’s at 134.67 million tonne (MT) mainly because of patchy monsoon rains in parts of central India along with floods in parts of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam. However this year’s kharif production would still be higher than the average production of the five years between 2011-12 to 2015-16, that is, 128.24 MT.

In its forecasts in June and July, the Met department had stated that the monsoon rainfall in 2017 would be 98% of LPA with a model error of ± 4%.
Even as monsoon had officially withdrawn from the Indian sub-continent on Saturday, the Met department has stated that withdrawal from many areas of the country has been delayed by a couple of weeks. Rains are still occurring across east and southern regions. “Southwest monsoon has been vigorous over Assam, Meghalaya, Sikkim, West Bengal and in north interior Karnataka,” according to a statement issued by IMD on Sunday.

IMD data states that of the country’s 36 meteorological sub-divisions, six fall under rain-deficit zone right now; in terms of area, 17% is rain-deficient. Twenty five sub-divisions have received ‘normal’ rainfall while five subdivisions have received ‘excess’ rains.

According to a Met department official, June saw good spells of rain across most parts of the country. As a result, the actual rains during the month was 104% of LPA. In July also the cumulative rainfall was 102% of LPA while southern regions did not get sufficient downpour especially Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

In July and August, floods were reported from Gujarat, south Rajasthan, Assam, Bihar and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Odisha. However the month of September saw prolonged dry spell across India especially during first two weeks of the month. However there was adequate rainfall in southern India in the last two weeks of the September which wiped out rainfall deficiency in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Cumulatively while the first half (June-July) monsoon reported a rainfall of 102.5% LPA, during the August and September period the rains were only 87.5% of the benchmark.

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