Good July rains bring monsoon deficit to 9%

Forecasters were pessimistic in May due to the looming fear of an El Niño, which has now largely receded.

July 31, 2019 10:02 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 08:28 am IST - NEW DELHI

Tourists gather in large numbers at the Gateway of India following a fresh spell of rainfall in Mumbai on July 31.

Tourists gather in large numbers at the Gateway of India following a fresh spell of rainfall in Mumbai on July 31.

India’s monsoon deficit percentage has for the first time this year narrowed down to single digits thanks to better-than-expected July rainfall.

As of July 31, data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) says that the country got 28.5 cm of rainfall in July, about 4% more than what’s normal for the month. This has reduced the seasonal deficit (calculated from June 1 to July 31) from 32.8% as on June 30 to 9%, as July’s numbers suggest.

July rainfall exceeds the prediction by the weather agencies in May. The IMD, for instance, had forecast July rainfall to be 5% less than normal, and private weather agency Skymet said the deficit would be 9%.

Except peninsula

The improvement in rainfall was distributed in all regions except the southern peninsula, which got 10% less rain than what’s normal for July

Currently, the monsoon is in an active phase and, because of the likelihood of a rain-bearing low pressure system in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal, steady rains are likely over Central India as well as India’s western coast until the first week of August.

 

While the IMD is expected to soon announce an updated outlook for the quantum of rainfall expected in August and September, it had in May forecast rainfall in August to be 99% of its average. August and July are the rainiest and the most important months in the monsoon and contribute roughly 65% of the overall monsoon rainfall.

El Niño effects

The pessimism by forecasters in May was due to the looming fear of an El Niño, a climate phenomenon known to dry up monsoon rainfall. The threat of an El Niño has now largely receded. “Currently, weak El Niño conditions are prevailing over equatorial Pacific Ocean and forecasts indicate that transition of El Niño conditions to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions is likely during the end of the monsoon season,” the IMD’s latest outlook indicates.

The improvement in rains are critical to revive kharif sowing in the country. As of July 26, the area under food crops is about 10% below what it was last year. Updated sowing figures are expected on Friday evening.

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