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India to Have Normal Monsoon This Year, Predicts IMD

The Indian government’s official monsoon forecast is one of the most eagerly anticipated weather forecasts in the country. The livelihoods of a large majority of farmers, who do not have access to irrigation, are dependent on the monsoon rains. In turn, the fortunes of the Indian economy are directly correlated to the monsoon.

Tushar Dhara | News18.com

Updated:April 18, 2017, 5:18 PM IST
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India to Have Normal Monsoon This Year, Predicts IMD
Skymet, a private weather forecaster, had earlier predicted that India will receive 95% of the LPA, or ‘below normal’ rains.
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New Delhi: India will have normal rains in the June-September monsoon season, the meteorological department said in its first official forecast on Tuesday, an announcement that will be greeted with a sense of relief by not only farmers but also economists and policymakers.

“India will have 96% rainfall of long period average (LPA),” said Dr KJ Ramesh, DGM, India Meteorological Department (IMD).

“Normal spatial distribution of rainfall is expected this monsoon, which is good for agriculture and economy,” he added.

The Indian government’s official monsoon forecast is one of the most eagerly anticipated weather forecasts in the country. The livelihoods of a large majority of farmers, who do not have access to irrigation, are dependent on the monsoon rains. In turn, the fortunes of the Indian economy are directly correlated to the monsoon.

A normal monsoon this year would be the second consecutive year that India has received adequate precipitation, after the drought years of 2014 and 2015. The back to back droughts — only the fourth time this has happened in the last 110 years — affected the social and economic life in large parts of India.

The IMD has its own classification system for rainfall deficiency. How it is done is the following: The prediction for the amount of rainfall in any given year is benchmarked against the Long Period Average (LPA), which is an average value of the rainfall data for 50 years, taken from 1951 to 2001.

A value between 96% and 104% of the LPA is considered ‘normal’ while a figure above the upper range is classified as ‘above normal’. Rainfall between 90%-96% of the LPA is ‘below normal’, and less than that is ‘deficient’.

The IMD’s definition of drought is when the rainfall deficiency is more than 10% and around 20%-40% of the country’s geographical area suffers from drought, though there is a lot of politics involved in declaring a drought.

Skymet, a private weather forecaster, had earlier predicted that India will receive 95% of the LPA, or ‘below normal’ rains. Its forecast was based on a prediction that the El Nino will revive from July onwards.

El Nino is a complex set of weather cycles that occur over the Pacific Ocean and affect climate patterns worldwide. The El Nino is characterised by warm surface temperatures over the Eastern Pacific Ocean, which results in heavy rain in South America and drier conditions over South and South East Asia and Australia.

Most global weather forecasting systems have predicted that the El Nino will revive in the second half of 2017, just around the time when India’s annual monsoon season gets underway, with implications for the country’s water and food security. It is in this backdrop that the IMD’s forecast has to be viewed.

| Edited by: Nakshab Khan
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