Despite late surge in rain, Kerala on the brink of driest August since 1901

As of August 29, State received 46.2 mm of rainfall in the month, a shortfall of close to 90%

Updated - August 31, 2023 04:32 am IST

Published - August 30, 2023 07:54 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

 A fisherman engaged in fishing at a dried bed of the river at Thiruvalatur in Palakkad. File.

A fisherman engaged in fishing at a dried bed of the river at Thiruvalatur in Palakkad. File. | Photo Credit: K.K. MUSTAFAH

Despite an unexpected bout of heavy showers which threw a wet blanket over the Onam festivities in Kerala, August will be marked as the driest-ever month in the recorded history of the State since 1901. As of August 29, Kerala received 46.2 mm of rainfall in the month, a shortfall of close to 90%.

The previous lowest in the 120-year recorded history of the southwest monsoon was 178.6 mm of rainfall registered in 1911. Further, this is the first time in the history of monsoon that August rainfall, which accounts for around 21% of the total annual southwest monsoon rainfall in Kerala, falls below the 100-mm mark. Though there is a day more left in the month, it is highly unlikely to bring a change in the August scenario, according to weathermen. The month will also be ‘the driest’ at the national level, with a rainfall deficit of over 32%.

Similarly, the lowest-ever southwest monsoon season rainfall was recorded in 1918 at a cumulative 1,104.3 mm against the typical seasonal average of 2,018 mm. It remains to be seen whether the State will be on track to record the driest-ever season. 

However, amidst the disheartening trends, there are some positive meteorological indicators. First, the monsoon trough, which is still running close to the foothills of the Himalayas, is expected to shift to the south of its normal position in the first week of September.

The trough shifting southward from its normal position will enhance rain activity in Central India along with the Southern peninsula. Further, a trough, which now extends from south interior Karnataka to the Comorin area, in tandem with a cyclonic circulation over South Karnataka is expected to trigger isolated rain in Kerala for the next few days, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) sources.

In addition, the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia, has confirmed that the latest weekly Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) index was +1.05 °Celsius as of August 29. This is the second week it has been above the positive IOD threshold of +0.40 °C. A positive IOD is likely to enhance rainfall activity in the Indian continent, especially along the west coast, offsetting the negative impact of El Niño in the Pacific region. However, to declare the IOD event, several more weeks of the IOD index above the positive IOD threshold are required.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.