Monsoon onset seen around normal date

NEW DELHI Wed May 9, 2012 5:53pm IST

A boy prepares to jump off a rock into the waters of the Osman Sagar Lake near Hyderabad May 29, 2011. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder

A boy prepares to jump off a rock into the waters of the Osman Sagar Lake near Hyderabad May 29, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Krishnendu Halder

Related Topics

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's monsoon rains are expected to arrive nearly on time, a former government forecaster said on Wednesday, adding to hopes of another drought-free year which would enable the major crop producer to continue its liberal export policy.

Monsoon rains usually arrive around June 1 over the south coast, and P.V. Joseph, now professor emeritus in the atmospheric science department at Cochin University of Science and Technology in Kerala, said they could arrive on that date, give or take three days - a timeframe considered to be normal.

The rains, vital for farm output and economic growth, irrigate about 60 percent of India's farmland. Farming accounts for about 15 percent of the nearly $2 trillion economy.

India is the world's second-biggest producer of rice, wheat, sugar and cotton and also one of the largest consumers, with a population of about 1.2 billion.

"The monsoon rains are expected to hit the Kerala coast three days before the normal date," said Joseph, who was a director at the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Arrival of the rains nearly on time brightens farm output prospects as farmers can plant crops to give them enough time to reach adequate maturity for a bumper harvest.

The weather office treats June 1 as the normal date for the monsoon arrival over the southern coast based on a time series rainfall data of over 100 years.

The June-September rainy season starts over the Kerala coast and covers the rest of India and neighbouring countries Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal by mid-July.

Joseph based his forecast on the "pre-monsoon rain peak", when the surface temperature of the seawater in the Bay of Bengal off the east coast of the subcontinent rises about 35-40 days before the monsoon, and clouds near the equator move north.

He said this peak occurred during the last week of April causing rains then on the southern coast.

Joseph, who is often consulted by the government's weather office, said there was around six days' degree of variance in the forecast. His pioneering "pre-monsoon rain peak" forecast is one of the key parameters used by the IMD.

The weather office is expected to release its official forecast on the monsoon onset over the Kerala coast next week.

India farm output vs monsoon rainfall

link.reuters.com/tas67s

Graphic on India monsoon - forecast vs actual

link.reuters.com/xux88r

Last month, India's weather office forecast normal rains for the third straight year. It had said the country was likely to avoid a drought in 2012 as monsoon rains were likely to be average.

Joseph also had words of caution for his forecast.

"The predicted onset could be delayed if any cyclone develops in coming days," he said, adding the rains could then arrive at least three days after June 1.

Last year, Joseph's forecast of two days ahead of the normal onset matched the actual onset over the Kerala coast on May 29.

In 2010, he forecast the arrival of the monsoon would be 7-10 days ahead of normal over the Kerala coast, but a cyclone in mid-May on the east coast brought the seasonal rains on May 31, a day ahead of the normal date.

The monsoon hit a week ahead of normal in 2009 but the season turned out to be the driest in four decades, causing widespread losses to key crops such as oilseeds and sugarcane, pushing up food inflation.

(Editing by Jo Winterbottom and William Hardy)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Sundar Pichai Elevated

Sundar Pichai Elevated

Google's Pichai to oversee major products and services.  Full Article 

Need For Reforms

Need For Reforms

Euro zone risks "relapse into recession" without structural reforms - Draghi.  Full Article 

Diwali Sales

Diwali Sales

Gold sales jump about 20 pct for Diwali - trade body  Full Article 

World Bank Rival

World Bank Rival

Three major nations absent as China launches W.Bank rival in Asia  Full Article 

Wal-Mart India

Wal-Mart India

Murali Lanka appointed as Wal-Mart India operations chief  Full Article 

Health Of Lenders

Health Of Lenders

25 European banks set to fail health checks - sources.  Full Article 

Special Report

Special Report

Why Madrid's poor fear Goldman Sachs and Blackstone  Full Article 

U.S. Economy

U.S. Economy

Spectre of no-inflation world looms over Fed's return to normal  Full Article 

India Insight

India Insight

Kalki Koechlin on her role as a disabled girl in “Margarita, With a Straw”  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage