Monsoon to be deficient this year: IMD

New Delhi: The crucial south-west monsoon rains will be deficient this year, the weather office announced today, the first indications of a drought-like situation after three years. However, monsoon in August is expected to be normal but a question mark looms over rainfall in September as El Nino conditions (warming of central Pacific Ocean) appear set to turn unfavourable for the country, IMD said.

"The seasonal rainfall of the entire southwest monsoon season — June to September — is likely to be deficient," the India Meteorological Department said in an update to the monsoon forecast. The monsoon rains are expected to be less than 90 per cent of the long-period average, a 50-year timeframe of the rainfall recorded during the four monsoon rains. The LPA is pegged at 89cm.

"In August, we are hoping for a better rainfall scenario … But there will be some problem in the terminal part of the monsoon," IMD Director General Laxman Singh Rathore had said. He had apprehended poor rainfall in September on account of the warming of the central Pacific Ocean, known as the El Nino phenomenon. The central Pacific Ocean is expected to experience a warming of the sea surface temperature by 0.5 to 0.7 degrees Celsius.

Since its shaky onset in June, the southwest monsoon has witnessed 19 per cent deficient rains in the first two months of the four-month rain season, prompting experts to draw comparisons with drought years of 2002 or even worse in 1918. In 2002, rainfall deficiency for June-September season was 19 per cent while in 1918 it was 28 per cent.

Since its delayed onset in June, south west monsoon has been 11 per cent deficient in the northeast, 36 per cent deficient in the northwest, 15 per cent deficient in central India and 24 per cent deficient in the southern peninsula. The country as a whole has received 378.8 mm rainfall as against the normal of 471.4 mm, a deficiency of 20 per cent.

In terms of area covered, monsoon has been deficient or scanty in 63 per cent regions of the country and normal in 37 per cent region. Officials said Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and interior Karnataka would be areas of concern where deficient rainfall has been recorded. Earlier this week, the government had rolled out contingency plans to tackle a drought-like situation faced by several states owing to a weak monsoon.

An IMD statement said El Nino conditions were building up in the equatorial Pacific with sea surface temperature (SST) ries of 0.5 degrees Celsius observed over much of the recent two weeks. The latest forecasts from a majority of the dynamical and statistical models indicate strong possibility (with a probability of about 65%) for weak to moderate El Nino conditions to emerge in the next two months, it said. "The El Nino conditions are likely to have adverse impact on the rainfall over the country during the second half of the monsoon season," the statement said.