New Delhi: India is likely to receive normal rainfall during the four months of the southwest monsoon season this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Wednesday, in its second-stage forecast a day after the monsoon rains hit the Kerala coast.

The IMD said North-west India, comprising key kharif-crop growing states such as Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, is likely to receive higher rainfall than last year, at 100% its 50-year average.

Rainfall is likely to be 99% of the long-period average (LPA) for central India, comprising Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and 93% in the north-east, where the monsoon is set to arrive in the next two days.

However, the southern peninsula consisting of Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and parts of Maharashtra may receive 95% of LPA, which is lower than last year. This may be bad news for the region, where deficient rainfall last year caused widespread farm distress.

However, IMD chief K.J. Ramesh said, “The variability of rainfall in the southern states is extremely high. So, considering the uncertainty of the monsoon, 95% of LPA is very good. It is not worrying, as 95% LPA does not fall in the below-normal or deficit category."

The IMD predictions, detailing geographical and month-wise distribution of rainfall, come with a model error of +/- 8%.

The June-September monsoon season is critical not only for the kharif crops, but also for the economy, which is largely dependent on the agriculture sector. Normal rainfall could boost the Indian economy as it paves the way for better farm output and boost consumer demand.

Reiterating its April forecast, the IMD said that rainfall during June-September is most likely to be normal —in the range of 96-104% of the LPA. The LPA takes into account the 50-year (1951-2000) average rainfall at 89 cm.

IMD said rainfall is expected to be normal in July at 101% of LPA and 94% for August, with a model error of +/- 9 per cent.

After making its early onset over Kerala on 29 May, the monsoon is now advancing toward Karnataka, parts of Tamil Nadu and is set to hit Andhra Pradesh and Telangana around 3 June. Maharashtra and Goa could experience early rains from 6 June.

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