Met predicts normal monsoon for third year running

Bringing some cheer to India's much-criticised planners, the meteorological department has predicted that monsoon rains (June-September) will be 'normal' for the third year running.

According to the India Meteorological Department, the precipitation during the season is likely to be 99 per cent of the long period average of 890 mm, with an error margin of 5 per cent. This would more or less match last year's total precipitation. A deviation of 5 per cent on either side doesn't really matter as it still implies a copious overall monsoon.

The forecast warns that there is a 24 per cent probability of rainfall falling in the below normal range of 90 -96 per cent of the long-period average (LPA). At the same time, the probability of it being in excess of normal or seriously deficient is less than 10 per cent, IMD says.

IMD director-general L S Rathore said in an interview to CNBC-TV18 that there is a slight risk of an El Nino weather pattern in the second half of monsoon (August-September), which would curtail total precipitation.

Last year, the contrary La Nina currents had boosted the late-monsoon rainfall, thus helping vindicate the IMD's earlier forecasts. The contrary may well happen this year.

This is IMD's early forecast; which it has this year delayed by a couple of weeks from the usual mid-April. The more important follow-up forecast is likely to be issued in June, just before the onset of the South-West monsoon along the Western coast, from where it will travel across the country.