Possibility of a Normal Monsoon This Year: IMD

Weather conditions at present indicate possibility of a normal monsoon in 2017, although there is a chance of a weak El Niño -a weather phenomenon associated with poor rains in India -emerging towards the end of the rainy season in September, the weather office has said. However, the monsoon forecast may not remain comfortable if El Niño makes an early appearance.

Having briefly emerged from two back-to-back droughts caused by El Niño conditions, the government is under pressure to take policy decisions about import and export of major commodities. While there is growing demand to open up export of pulses as prices have dived below the minimum support price, the country is also assessing the need to import sugar as domestic production has declined by 18.5% as on February 28.

India Meteorology Department in its latest El Niño Southern Oscillation update has predicted development of weak El Niño conditions in September.

According to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology, prospects of El Niño forming this year have increased to 50. The Indian weather office has clarified that even if El Niño emerges in September, if other parameters remain as they are now, the country may get a normal monsoon. However, if the next forecast indicates possibility of an early development of El Niño -by July or August -then there could be concerns.

Private forecaster Skymet has predicted El Niño this year. Judging strictly by historical patterns, Skymet opined that there could be 80% chance of below normal rain fall and 60% chance of drought. There is a zero chance of excess rainfall this year.

Last year, with 97% rainfall, India received a normal monsoon after three years. Monsoon is considered normal between 96% and 104%.

Differential heating of the land and the ocean is also an important criterion influencing Indian monsoon rainfall. The IMD has already forecast that the temperature of the Indian land mass is expected to remain above normal in March, April and May.

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