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Slow monsoon progress may last till end of month

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Jun 18, 2024 04:51 AM IST

India's monsoon is weak, with deficits in rainfall across the country. Meteorologists predict a revival in late June, with active rain in July.

The monsoon in India has remained weak, the India Meteorological Department said on Monday, with some meteorologists warning it may not revive until late June.

The monsoon’s northern limit has barely progressed since June 11. (Sunil Ghosh/HT Photo)
The monsoon’s northern limit has barely progressed since June 11. (Sunil Ghosh/HT Photo)

The monsoon’s northern limit has barely progressed since June 11 after crossing through Navsari, Jalgaon, Amravati, Chandrapur, Bijapur, Sukma, Malkangiri, Vizianagaram and Islampur. Rainfall has been 20% below average across the country since June 1, with deficits of 68% in northwest India, 29% in central India, and 20% in east and northeast India. Peninsular India, meanwhile, has seen a 17% surplus.

In the national capital, there has been a lack of pre-monsoon rains as hot and dry winds have gripped the region, leading to severe heatwave conditions and warm nights — Monday was the fourth consecutive night when conditions were extremely hot even after sundown.

But models indicating a monsoon revival in late June predict that rains will become active over northwest India in July, close to the routine onset schedule. “Northwest India can expect widespread rainfall in the first fortnight of July,” M Rajeevan, former secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The meteorologist added that climate models “suggest after a hiatus in its advance, monsoon is reviving during last week of June” and “will advance further and cover the whole country by July first week”.

The monsoon rains typically have an ebb and flow to how they spread over the country, and have various active and dormant phases. For instance, in 2022, monsoon had arrived in Delhi on June 29 but there were no good spells of rain for over a week after that. This is because while the moist, easterly winds that are part of the southwest monsoon system may reach a location, the exact conditions — often low pressure areas that lead to cloud formation — may not be present, or may be pulled away to another location. In 2022, a low pressure area over Gujarat is said to have led to the reduced rains over the national Capital.

A second expert suggested the revival may happen sooner. “Monsoon may pick up in a few days and then reach NW India by month end. Monsoon normally reaches here by June 27,” said Mahesh Palawat, vice president, climate and Met, at Skymet Weather.

Experts said it was too soon to say if the current pause could impact the monsoon. The season lasts until the end of September and the formation of La Nina conditions predicted in July-August could boost rains in the latter part of the rain season.

While IMD did not comment on any impact on the crops so far, it prescribed: “Apply light and frequent irrigation to standing crops to avoid heat stress; provide mulching to conserve soil moisture and minimise evaporation in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Bihar and Jharkhand.”

The lag in the monsoon has caused water and heat stress over east and NW India, where maximum temperatures are some 6-8°C higher than normal. In Delhi, Safdarjung — the base station for the city — recorded a peak of 45.2°C, six notches above normal in what was classified as a heatwave reading. At other stations, such as Ridge and Ayanagar the deviation was eight degrees above normal.

Such conditions and accompanying heat stress has also extended to Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, north Rajasthan and north Madhya Pradesh, with deviations of 4 to 8 degrees above normal. Prayagraj in eastern Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest temperature at 47.6 C on Sunday.

Meanwhile, a cyclonic circulation over northeast Assam and a north-south trough from north Bihar to southern West Bengal are bringing widespread light to moderate rainfall to the northeast. Isolated heavy to extremely heavy rainfall is expected in parts of the region through June 21.

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