Monsoon likely to be below normal this year too: Indian Meteorological Department

New Delhi: India is likely to witness a 'below normal' monsoon this season, for a second consecutive year, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday predicted as it partly blamed the El Nino phenomenon for the low forecast.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said parts of the northwest and central India are likely to be affected the most with less rainfall. Addressing a news conference, Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Earth Science, said the Monsoon would be 93 per cent of the Long Period Average which is below normal.

According to the IMD parameters, below 90 per cent is defined as deficient, 90-96 per cent is considered as below normal, 96-104 per cent as normal and above which is excess. He, however, did not respond to whether the country is likely to face any 'drought-like' condition. "There is a 35 per cent probability for the monsoon to remain below normal while the probability to have a deficient rainfall is 33 per cent and 28 per cent to be normal.

There is only one per cent possibility for the rainfall to be excess. "The Cabinet Secretariat and the Prime Minister's Office have been informed about the forecast so that they can gear up for future possibilities," Vardhan said.

"Parts of north west India and central India will be affected due to less rainfall," MoES secretary Shailesh Nayak said.

Last year, India experienced deficient rainfall with 88 per cent of the LPA with states in north west region like Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi-NCR and western Uttar Pradesh being affected.

The MET department has blamed the El Nino phenomenon for below normal rainfall this year. "This is a typical El Nino feature where northwest India and central India will receive less rainfall. There are 70 per cent chances that El Nino will
continue during the monsoon," D S Pai, head of the IMD's Long Range Forecast department, said.

"El Nino has affected rainfall bringing it below normal eight times in past 14 years. The impact of El Nino has been factored in this year's forecast," said IMD Director General Laxman Rathore.

El Nino is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific including off the Pacific coast of South America. It affects the weather patterns and also the rainfall. This is be the second consecutive year that India may witness less rainfall.

Last year, the country as a whole witnessed 88 per cent, which below deficit as per IMD's parameters.

Vardhan said the Agriculture ministry will communicate to farmers the need for better preparedness as they are already reeling under the burden of losses to their crops due to unseasonal rainfall early this year.

However, officials said that paddy, which is a major Kharif crop, is unlikely to have an impact of less rainfall this season. "Paddy is mostly cultivated in northeastern and southern parts of the country which are expected to receive normal rainfall," Rathore said.

Incidentally, Skymet, a private weather forecasting agency, has predicted that the southwest monsoon this year will be normal, with many parts of north India expected to receive good rainfall while parts of south India may experience weak precipitation- contrary to the prediction of the IMD.

India receives more than 75 per cent of its rainfall between June and September.

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