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El Nino may not have major impact on rains: IMD's DG
19 Apr 2017
The Financial Chronicle
Skymet differs, predicts below normal rainfall
The southwest monsoon, which brings in 70 per cent of India’s total rainfall, will be normal this year, the official weather bureau, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), said on Tuesday. The forecast released on Tuesday is at variance with private weather forecaster Skymet, which has predicted below normal monsoon. IMD’s director general KJ Ramesh said the monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 96 per cent of the long period average (LPA) with an error of plus or minus 5 per cent.
Rainfall between 96 per cent and 104 per cent of the 50-year average of 89 cm rainfall during the June-September monsoon season is considered normal. The overall distribution of rainfall across the country will be good, Ramesh said, adding that he did not rule out some areas not getting adequate rains. Even during a good monsoon, 15-20 per cent of the districts receive deficient rain, which is not unusual, he said.
If India receives normal monsoon rains for the second consecutive year after two back-to-back droughts in 2014 and 2015, it will help the government in reviving the rural economy and ameliorating farmers’ distress.
Last year, IMD had predicted “above normal” rainfall of 106 per cent of LPA, but the season ended with 97 per cent rainfall, which is considered normal.
IMD had also predicted that the southern peninsula would get 113 per cent rains, but the actual rainfall recorded stood at just 92 per cent, with Tamil Nadu reeling under severe drought.
Ramesh said, “Forecast assessment suggests 38 per cent of probability for near normal monsoon rainfall.” This could mean there is more probability for “below normal” and “deficient” rains, if put together.
Asked why IMD this year had deviated from not disclosing the probability percentage of a “below normal” and “deficient” rains, he said the data was not as clear and it could be released in the next update in June after monsoon actually arrives.
Had there been higher probability of excess rainfall, IMD could have put together its claim of “normal” rainfall more convincingly.
On the El Nino impact on monsoon, the IMD’s DG said it is unlikely to have any major impact on rains.
Overall the probability of emergence of El Nino has reduced, as per several global models, he said, adding there is also a possibility that the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) continues to be neutral during the monsoon season.
Even if El Nino appears in August-September, its impact will be minimised as a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) can bring in more monsoon rains.
El Nino is associated with warming of the Pacific Ocean that causes drought in Asia and Australia and excess rains in South America. A positive IOD means cooling of Indian Ocean water, which also impacts monsoon.
Skymet, a private weather forecasting company, has predicted “below normal rainfall” this year, with western India likely to experience a shortfall. It has attributed the likely weak rainfall to the El Nino effect.
D Sivanand Pai, senior weather scientist at IMD, said that there are chances of a weak El Nino occurring in August-September but there are also signs of a positive IOD.
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