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Another Year of Low Rainfall in India? No, Say IMD and Skymet

India may be lucky for a second year in a row, if the first monsoon forecasts made by the two weather agencies are anything to go by. Both weather forecasters have issued similar projections. Almost.

Private weather forecaster Skymet said the country is likely to witness “mildly below-normal” monsoon during the year with a near-normal first half and a weaker second half, but added that there is a 50 percent possibility of ‘normal monsoon’.

The government’s weather office, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), agreed that rainfall in the second half will be relatively weak, but said the shortfall won’t be big enough for the long-period average to fall below 96 percent.

On The Looming El Nino

Both weather forecasters cited the warm weather condition El Nino as one of the biggest factors which could impact rainfall this year. While the IMD pointed at the possibility of a “weak El Nino condition” developing between August to October, Skymet preferred to wait for more data before making a prediction.

Skymet’s Chief Executive Officer Jatin Singh said the second monsoon revision tends to be lower, but added that a positive IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole) could help reduce the extent of deficiency. The IOD is a change in sea surface temperatures in the western Indian ocean. The IMD also expects a positive IOD for the year.

The private forecaster issued a distribution pattern in its first forecast, predicting that Peninsular India, Maharashtra, Gujarat and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Haryana may receive below-normal rainfall.

The eastern region of the country covering Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal is expected to receive good rainfall, it added.

The government weatherman refrained from outlining a geographical pattern.

A fair distribution of rainfall is more important, MK Dhanuka, managing director of Dhanuka Agritech Ltd told BloombergQuint following the IMD’s forecast on Tuesday.

Even if it’s 95 percent across the country and evenly distributed among states, districts, talukas, we are happy. If the distribution is uneven, it will be harmful from agriculture’s point of view.

If El Nino comes in the second half of the monsoon, south India will see an impact, he said.

India’s agricultural economy is largely dependent on the monsoons, which affects prices. Consumer price inflation rose to 3.81 percent in March from 3.65 percent in the previous month.

Southern India already has an acute water shortage, after it received very little rainfall in winter last year. States like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu , Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry usually receive a lot of rains in the last two months of the year, after the monsoon season has ended in the country.

(The article was originally published on BloombergQuint)