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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Forget Raindrops, be Set for Teardrops Pvt forecasters stop short of calling it drought; monsoon June deficit 29%


Private forecasters in India and abroad are expecting weak monsoon rains in the key crop-planting months of July and August, particularly in the central and western regions, where farmers may face drought-like conditions on top of the arid weather in June, which was among the driest in the past 50 years. 
The monsoon made a delayed and shaky start last month and was 29% below average in June. The first month of the June-September season was drier only in the drought year of 2009, when it was 47% in deficit and before that in 1966 when it fell 33% short. The weather office maintains that all 
will be well, but independent forecasts are ominous although they stop short of predicting a drought this year. 
US-based forecaster Accu-Weather says only some parts of India will see normal rainfall. "Overall rains in India are likely to be below normal," it said.
Rajasthan, Gujarat Worst-Hit 
"The rainfall is likely to be normal in southern parts and along the western coast. Northeastern and eastern states will also get ample rainfall. But there may be deficient rains in central, northern and western India. Rajasthan and Gujarat are likely to be the worst-affected, getting 70-80% of the normal rainfall," AccuWeather Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler told ET by telephone. This will hurt output of oilseeds, coarse grains and guar. Another US-based weather centre, the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere (COLA) Studies, said rainfall has been anomalously low across India other than the northeast, and near-term forecasts do not indicate a quick return to normal rains. "This may be related to the growing warm sea surface temper
ature anomaly in the eastern tropical Pacific, which may continue to grow large and persistent enough to be labeled an El Nino event—warm SST in the eastern tropical Pacific is historically related to lower-thanaverage monsoon rainfall in India," said Jim Kinter, director, COLA. 
IMD, in its updated forecast, had maintained its forecast of normal rainfall but downgraded the amount of rain from 99% to 96% of the average. However, the monsoon's advance continues to be two weeks behind normal and the total rainfall deficit up to July 1 has widened to 31%. 
Private weather forecaster Telvent DTN has said monsoon continues to look weak. "It is also running well behind normal on its push towards the northwest. El Nino in the eastern Pacific would suggest a below-normal rainfall pattern for India this 
season. Computer models suggest little rain for key soyabean (west MP) and groundnut areas (Gujarat/ TN) of India during at least the next five days," the report said. 
India-based private weather services provider Skymet also predicts weak rains. "There are 60% chances of a below-normal monsoon and 40% for a normal monsoon. Total rainfall during July will be around 95% of average, with Gujarat, Rajasthan, adjoining areas of west Madhya Pradesh and Haryana receiving lower-than-normal rainfall. Rest of northwest India would witness normal rains," said Skymet's founder and CEO Jatin Singh. However, Jagadish Shukla, president, Institute of Global Environment and Society, said there is no serious cause of concern. 
rituraj.tiwari@timesgroup.com 

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