The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has said the southwest monsoon will be delayed by about seven days and arrive in Kerala on June 6.
“This year, the statistical model forecast suggests that the monsoon onset over Kerala is likely to be slightly delayed. The southwest monsoon onset is likely to set over Kerala on June 6,” said the IMD.
The southwest monsoon accounts for 70% of India’s rainfall, and this delay in its onset does not impact its overall volume, explains Indian Express. A delay in onset also does not mean that the rest of the country will experience a delayed monsoon.
The northward push of the rain clouds over Kerala depends on a variety of conditions, including low pressure.
The IMD has been forecasting the southwest monsoon over Kerala since 2005, with a margin of error of four days, and has mostly been correct.
Southwest monsoon delay: why and what happens?
The IMD explains that there are six key factors in its forecast model: minimum temperatures of northwest India, pre-monsoon rainfall over the southern peninsular area, outgoing long wave radiation over the South China Sea and Southwest Pacific region, and lower and upper tropospheric zonal wind over the Southeast Indian ocean and east equatorial Indian Ocean, respectively.
If, after May 10, 14 of the meteorological stations in Kerala and Lakshadweep record at least 2.5 mm of rain for two consecutive days, the IMD officially announces that the southwest monsoon has arrived.
The IMD added that the monsoon is also advancing over the Andaman Sea, but this has no influence on the onset of the southwest monsoon over Kerala or the entire country.
“Conditions are becoming favourable for advance of the southwest monsoon over the southern part of Andaman Sea, Nicobar Islands, and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal during May 18-19,” said the IMD.
If the monsoon is delayed, Kharif crop harvest, such as rice, grams, pulses, oil seeds, and cotton could be delayed, as well, and even the soil could dry out. The impact of a delayed monsoon is felt most strongly in central, eastern, and northern India.
Centre for Sustainable Agriculture Executive Director G V Ramanjaneyulu told Hindustan Times, “Delay of each day in the onset of monsoon will have an impact on yields. Farmers start preparing land in May and sowing by June second week. By the beginning of winter, these crops complete their life cycle, so any delay affects the crop cycle.”
Even distribution of rainfall is also important for kharif crops that account for 50% of India’s agricultural production.
What did the IMD say about India’s monsoon?
Earlier in April, IMD reported that India will have a “near normal” monsoon. This means that the country will see a Long Period Average (LPA) of about 89 cm, which is the standard for “normal”.
IMD said India will receive 94% of the average 89 cm volume. The department added that while there is a 39% chance of this “near normal” monsoon, there is also a 32% chance of “below normal” monsoon.
In a relief announcement, the IMD said the El Niño will not strongly impact the southwest monsoon.
El Niño is a phenomenon where eastern and central Pacific waters get warm and trigger evaporation and cloud formation over South America. However, the stronger the effect of El Niño, the less east Asia (including India) gets convection currents needed to stir rain clouds.
Experts said a “near normal” monsoon will likely encourage the RBI to cut policy rates. The rainfall will also boost agricultural output, if well distributed.
Most recently, authorities in the automobile industry also said that people will likely invest in cars once the monsoon arrives, which would reflect a positive change in the Indian economy.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.