Monsoon tracker

The southwest monsoon has roared back after an alarmingly weak start in June and delivered above-normal rainfall on most days this month, which gave Mumbai one of the wettest months of July on record, substantially reduced the seasonal rainfall deficit and expanded crop planting to almost last year’s level.

The shortfall in monsoon rainfall since June 1 has shrunk from 35% at end-June to 11%. Rainfall surged in the first 11 days of July and again in the past week with a lean patch in between. But on the whole, rainfall has been about 3% above normal, well in excess of the initial forecast of being 5% lower than average.

So far, more than two-thirds of the country has received normal or excess rain, which is a big improvement from barely 23% of the country getting adequate rainfall in the beginning of July.

The good news is that the current vigorous phase of the monsoon will continue, with favourable weather systems developing in different parts of the country.

Rainfall has revived most significantly in Central India, a region defined by the IMD as the area between the country’s mid-latitudes to include Gujarat, Odisha and Maharashtra, apart from Madhya Pradesh. The region’s seasonal rainfall is just 7% below normal. The deficit is 10% in north and northwest India.

In the eastern and northeastern parts, rainfall has been 12% below average. But the season’s normal rain is so heavy that even after this shortfall, the region has got much more than the rest of the country.

Crop planting had lagged far behind last year’s level in the first few weeks of the monsoon, which arrived late and remained static for many days before a slow advance towards northern India.

However, planting has now gathered pace as rainfall improved substantially in July. Crop planting in the beginning of the month was 26% lower than that a year ago, but the gap contracted to 6.4% last week.

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