Monsoon is likely to be below normal this year, a private weather forecasting agency Skymet said on Wednesday in its monsoon forecast report. There is a 55 per cent chance of a "below normal" rainfall, it predicted. Monsoon generally sweeps across the country beginning in late May or early June in South India and then gradually move towards north India July onwards. They generally recede from north India starting October.
The private forecaster said that monsoon is likely to be 93 per cent of the long period average (LPA), which falls under the "below normal" category. There is higher risk for the eastern parts and a major portion of central part of the country being rain deficient, it said.
The long period average or LPA is the average of rainfall between 1951 and 2000, which is 89 cm.
Skymet said monsoon is going to have "a very sluggish start" and deficit rains are likely to spill into July.
However, the second half of the season would see better rainfall as August and September are expected to see normal rain, it said.
Jatin Singh, Chief of Skymet, attributed the El Nino phenomenon as the reason behind a possible below normal rainfall.
There is a fear that below normal monsoon will dampen prospects of higher farm and economic growth.
"The Pacific Ocean has become strongly warmer than average. The model projections call for 80 percent chance of El Nino (weather-producing phenomena) during March-May, dropping to 60 percent for June to August," said Mr Singh.
"This means, it is going to be a devolving El Nino year, though retaining threshold values all through the season. Thus, Monsoon 2019 is likely to be below normal," he added.
Even though 2018 has been cold and chilly, 2019 is likely to be warmer, the weather officials had earlier said, pointing at El Nino and the overall rise in temperatures.
Once the El Nino tamps down, neutral conditions will set out, allowing improvement in rainfall, said Mahesh Palawat, Vice President (Meteorology and Climate Change) of Skymet.
"The saviour factor could be IOD (Indian Ocean Dipole) which is likely to be in the neutral or positive phase during the Monsoon. Thus, it may be able to absorb some of the El Nino blues and possibly would support rainfall during the second half of Monsoon," he said.
In 2018, both the southwest and the northeast monsoon were recorded as below normal. Several parts of the country have been witnessing agricultural distress due to erratic weather patterns.
Among the areas that will be affected due to deficient rainfall are Karnataka, Vidarbha and Marathwada in Maharashtra, southwest Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand along with the northeastern states.
Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and coastal Andhra Pradesh will receive more rainfall, said G P Sharma, President (Meteorology and Climate Change) at Skymet.
The rainfall in June will be 77 per cent (126 mm) of the LPA while it will be 91 per cent (263 mm) in July, 102 per cent (266 mm) in August and 99 per cent (171 mm) in September.
Mr Palawat also said temperature in the national capital will be under control this summer due to pre-monsoon activities.
(With inputs from IANS, PTI)