By admin       2019-04-05

Skymet forecast :NEW DELHI: NEW DELHI: Downgrading its initial assessment of normal rains, private weather forecaster Skymet said on Wednesday that India is likely to see a below-normal monsoon this year, with central and east India at most risk of poor rainfall, due to the projected presence of El Nino during the season.Skymet pegged countrywide rainfall during the monsoon period (June-September) at 93% of the long period average. Of greater concern for agriculture is the forecast of weak rains during June and July, when most of the sowing for the kharif (summer) crop normally takes place. The forecaster said rainfall is likely to be 23% below normal in June and 9% below par in July, usually the wettest month of the year. The forecasts for August and September are brighter, with rainfall pegged close to normal at 2% above and 1% below, respectively.Monsoon is expected to be weak over central and parts of east India. Skymet said MP, Marathwada, Vidarbha, parts of interior Karnataka, Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of Bengal are at risk of poor rains.Odisha, Chhattisgarh and coastal Andhra Pradesh are most likely to see normal rains, it said. The country’s official weather forecaster, the India Meteorological Department, will issue its monsoon outlook later this month, with officials hinting that the forecast is likely to be released after the second phase of polling on April 18. Skymet said the first half of the rainy season is likely to come under the shadow of El Nino, a state where waters in the east and central Pacific Ocean warm beyond threshold levels, leading to changes in wind patterns that often weaken the Indian summer monsoon. A weak El Nino had set in in February and the Pacific has continued to warm since then. “Models give a 60% probability of El Nino continuing in the June to August period, down from 80% in the previous months. This means, it is going to be a devolving El Nino year, though retaining threshold values through the season. Thus, monsoon 2019 is likely to be below normal,” said Skymet MD Jatin Singh. If the forecast holds, 2019 would be the third successive year of below normal monsoon and raises concerns over water availability. Agriculture ministry officials said farm production is not likely to be impacted too much if rainfall distribution, across regions and months, is not skewed. However, poor rains in June-July could result in delayed sowing of kharif crops in northwest India, particularly Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. Officials said this may lead to an increase in stubble-burning, a major source of air pollution in the region in October-November, as a corresponding delay in harvesting will leave only a small window for farmers to ready their fields for the winter crops. “If the prediction proves to be correct, farmers in these states will start sowing only towards the end of July and thereby eventually lose a critical window of 15-20 days before going in for the next crop,” said an official. Officials said farm output suffers majorly in a drought year, when rainfall is more than 10% below normal, like in 2014-15 and 2015-16. In both years — the first two of Modi’s tenure — saw negative growth in farm production. The output recovered substantially the very next year (2016-17), when a normal monsoon led to 275.1 million tonnes (MT) of foodgrain production. The output did not decline later when the country faced below normal rainfall in 2017-18 and 2018-19, recording 284.8 MT and 281.4 MT of foodgrain production, respectively.Skymet’s “preliminary” forecast in late February had favoured a normal monsoon based on weather conditions in January, when El Nino had started fading.The accuracy of the current forecast hinges on how El Nino behaves in April, after the “spring barrier” period when models have difficulties predicting conditions in the Pacific. “Our models show El Nino is likely to persist till July. But we are closely watching its evolution through April,” said an IMD scientist connected with monsoon forecasts.

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