IMD's monsoon predictions revised downwards once again

With the sun peeping through the clouds more often than not, the meteorological department's predictions about the monsoons have become a bit of a joke. After promising as late as Monday that the rains would be near normal and hit hard by Thursday, it has now changed its predictions and warned that the monsoons will be well below normal across India this year.

In its most recent pronouncement, the Indian Meteorological Department now says that while rainfall would be below normal all over the country. The silver lining in the elusive dark clouds is that there is little chance of a drought. Rains in July-August are expected to make up for the initial deficit in the main grain-growing regions of Punjab and Haryana, it said.

The latest official prognosis further says that the north-eastern and peninsular regions of the country are likely to get below normal rains while the Northwest would have deficient rains. Central India, which is yet to receive any precipitation, is expected to have a normal monsoon.

The weather office says total rainfall from the monsoon would be only 93 per cent of the long-term average, coming in below normal for the first time in four years.

For the week ended 24 June, countrywide monsoon rainfall was 13.6 mm against normal rainfall of 42.6 mm, the weather office said on its website.

Releasing the latest forecast in New Delhi, Prithviraj Chavan, union minister for science and technology and earth sciences, said since the June rainfall constituted only 18 per cent of the total seasonal rainfall, it was too early to press the panic button. The shortage may be compensated in July or August, he hoped.