NEW DELHI: The monsoon is likely to beat the adverse impact of an El Nino and provide normal rains in the country this year, private weather forecaster Skymet said on Thursday, in the first prediction on the 2015 rainy season by an Indian agency.
About a week before the India Meteorological Department releases its first long range forecast, Skymet said it expects 102% rains during the monsoon season (June to September), which is within the 96%-104% normal range. The forecast has an error margin of 4%.
“The monsoon onset is expected to be early, around May 27, and fairly strong. Pre-monsoon rain will also be strong across the country. Unseasonal rain will continue well into May,” a Skymet release said.
The agency also gave a bright outlook for north India’s grain-bowl belt, saying Punjab, Haryana and west UP were expected to receive good monsoon rain.
The forecast comes despite predictions by international agencies that El Nino conditions would continue through summer and into this year’s autumn season. During an El Nino, waters in east and central equatorial Pacific heat up abnormally, leading to changes in wind patterns that in most cases affect the Indian monsoon. However, in some El Nino years such as 2006 and 1997 the monsoon has been normal.
(Good monsoon will come as a big relief for farmers who are hit-by crop loss due to hailstorm and unseasonal rain in India.)
“We do not think El Nino will impact the monsoon this year. That’s because the El Nino is expected to peak before June and would be in the devolving phase during the rainy season,” Skymet CEO Jatin Singh told TOI.
Further, he said, the probability of two successive drought years in India was very low, having occurred just thrice in the recorded past. The monsoon last year was 88% of the long period average. A shortfall of more than 10% is categorized as ‘deficient’ by IMD and informally called a drought year.
In its April forecast last year, Skymet had predicted 94% rains during the 2014 monsoon, revising that figure to 91% in June. The predictions were similar to IMD’s forecast in April of 95%, which was revised down to 93% in June.
For this year, Skymet has given a 49% chance of a normal monsoon (96%-104% of average) and a 25% probability of above normal rains (105%-110%). The chances of below normal rains (90%-95%) are seen at 16% while the odds of a drought are a mere 2%.
The agency expects good rains in June and July at 107% and 104% of the average, respectively. August (99%) and September (96%) should also see normal rainfall in the country, it said.
Although the official monsoon forecast by IMD is awaited, the private agency’s predictions should bring some cheer to the farm sector, where crop losses have again mounted in the rabi season due to heavy unseasonal showers, following the poor rains last monsoon.
The monsoon, which supplies over 80% of India’s annual rainfall, is crucial for the country’s economy. The impact of unseasonal rains on crops had triggered concerns about a spike in food inflation but the prospect of normal monsoon should augur well for farm output and overall economic growth.