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Onset of monsoon may be delayed

P. Sunderarajan

Overall performance will not be hit, says Meteorological Department

  • Monsoon to set over Kerala on June 7, Normal date being June 1
  • No possibility of El-Nino problem
  • Relief from heat wave over next three days

    NEW DELHI: The India Meteorological Department forecast on Wednesday that the onset of monsoon may be delayed. According to the Department, it is likely to set over Kerala on June 7 with a forecast error margin of plus or minus three days, as against the normal date of June 1.

    Announcing this, an official press release said the delay was not unusual as the onset date had a standard deviation of about seven days. During the last 50 years, the earliest monsoon onset was on May 14 in 1960 and the most delayed onset was on June 18 in 1972.

    The delay, it said, was not likely to have any adverse impact on the overall performance of the monsoon. It is expected to be near normal, at 98 per cent of the long period average plus or minus five per cent, as forecast by the agency on April 20.

    "No correspondence"

    "There is no one-to-one correspondence between monsoon onset date over Kerala and subsequent performance of the South-West Monsoon during the season over the country as a whole. In spite of the expected delay in the onset of the monsoon over Kerala, the 2005 South-West Monsoon seasonal rainfall over the country as a whole is expected to be near normal as given in the IMD's forecast issued on 20 April, 2005."

    The release also noted that there did not seem to be any possibility of the El Nino problem during the season.

    There was, no doubt, an increase in the surface temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific during April, leading to the fears of the emergence of El Nino, but the effects of the present warming along the west coast of South America are expected to be brief.

    The delay in the onset of the monsoon has been forecast on the basis of a new statistical model developed by the IMD.

    The model was based on six parameters: north-west India minimum temperature, long wave radiation anomaly over Indo-China region and over south-west Pacific region, and sea surface temperature and wind pattern in the lower troposphere over the south Indian Ocean.

    Speaking to The Hindu , senior meteorologists at the IMD and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecast said the delay in the arrival of the monsoon had been expected particularly because of the heavier than usual snowfall in western Himalayas during the winter last year and due to lower than normal temperatures over the Indian landmass last month.

    The meteorologists also forecast that there may be some relief over the next three days from the heat wave condition prevailing in large parts of the country.

    The maximum temperatures, which are hovering over 40 degrees Celsius, are likely to come down by two to three degrees over the next three days because of the emergence of a western disturbance in the north-west region.

    N. Gopal Raj reports from Thiruvananthapuram:

    The monsoon would reach Kerala around June 10, said P.V. Joseph, an atmospheric scientist.

    This year, the "warm pool" in the central Bay of Bengal that typically reached 32 degrees Celsius by April 20 did so only at the end of April. There was typically a lag of one month between the Bay of Bengal warm pool reaching 32 degrees Celsius and a warm pool in the eastern Arabian Sea, north of the Lakshadweep islands, reaching a similar temperature.

    The Arabian Sea warm pool was currently at 31 degrees Celsius. "I expect it to reach 32 degrees in another 10 days," Dr. Joseph told The Hindu .

    Once that happened, strong cloud formation would start in the Arabian Sea near the equator and this band of clouds would move northwards, pulling the monsoon currents with it.

    A strong monsoon current would reach Kerala by about June 10, he predicted.

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