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Private weather forecaster sees below normal monsoon

But a favourable current in Indian Ocean may offset El Nino

Monsoon rains over India are likely to be ‘below normal,’ according to Skymet, a private weather forecasting company.

Rains during June to September are likely to be 95% (with an error margin of +/-5%) of the long period average (LPA) of 887 mm with Gujarat, Konkan & Goa, Madhya Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu likely to see rains below their normal quota.

The chances of drought, or rains below 10% of the seasonal quota, are about 25%.

Over three months, international weather models have been warning of an El Nino, characterised by warming surface waters in the equatorial Pacific during the latter part of this year. El Nino is known to dry up monsoon rains six out of 10 times.

However, a favourable form of a current in the Indian Ocean, called the Indian Ocean Dipole, is widely expected to counter the effects of the El Nino during the monsoon.

Greater clarity on this will emerge only after April, according to forecasters in the India Meteorological Department. They are likely to give their estimate of the monsoon next month.

According to Jatin Singh, CEO, Skymet, “Evolving El Nino may start affecting the monsoon performance July onward. Nevertheless, the presence of positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) could help in tempering the adverse impact of El Niño.”

At present, the IOD is in the neutral phase but weather models are indicating that it may become positive during the second half of the monsoon.

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