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Early rains welcome, but Met dept keeps fingers crossed

Early rains welcome, but Met dept keeps fingers crossed
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First Published: Mon, Jun 16 2008. 12 29 AM IST

Updated: Mon, Jun 16 2008. 12 29 AM IST
New Delhi: A monsoon that is early in north India by a fortnight is good news for farmers who have begun sowing seeds for the summer crop, especially in Punjab, Haryana and large parts of Uttar Pradesh. But meteorologists are unsure whether this will lead to an early break in the monsoon rainfall, which could have a potentially negative impact on the crop.
A break, in meteorology jargon, refers to the continue absence of rain for over a week. Typically, there are two or three breaks in the monsoon season and, often, a long break signifies a poor monsoon.
MONSOON TRACKER (PDF)
India experiences two monsoons—one between June and September and the next between October and December—every year. The first monsoon typically arrives in the north at the end of June or in early July, but this year it has arrived in the region two weeks early. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) formally announced the arrival of the monsoon in Delhi, parts of Punjab and UP on Sunday.
Seasonal bounty: Farmers have begun sowing seeds for the summer crop, following an early monsoon. (PTI)
Though IMD’s long-range forcast in April—an estimate of the rainfall between June and September—is perhaps the most awaited meteorological event in the calendar and is closely followed by market watchers and policymakers, farmers and agriculturists are far more interested in the active and break cycles of the monsoon.
“It’s hard to accurately predict the onset of a break,” said Madhavan Rajeevan, director of IMD’s National Climate Centre, Pune, “but when monsoon systems are progressing rapidly, we can be quite sure that there will be a compensatory off period... We are still working on a system that will try to predict breaks at least 20 days in advance.”
Meteorologists emphasize that the timing of the monsoon over a region doesn’t affect the total rainfall over a region and given that the number of rainy days during the monsoon doesn’t substantially vary, it’s reasonable to expect a handful of breaks in July and August.
IMD data suggests that several parts of north India have much more rain than what’s normal for this time of the year (see graphic). Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi have had 251% more rain than normal and rainfall in Uttar Pradesh is more than four times normal.
Another expert called the early onset an “occasional freak phenomena”. “There’s nothing to worry, because rapid onsets, a slowdown, and then renewed burst of rain are typical to the summer monsoon,” said B.N. Goswami, director, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
Given that the sowing season has started, early rains mean farmers don’t have to use water pumped from canals and other sources and can save it for later.
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First Published: Mon, Jun 16 2008. 12 29 AM IST
More Topics: Monsoon | Met Dept | Rains | Crops | Agriculture |