IMD forecasts normal monsoon this year

New Delhi : For the first time since 2013, the weatherman has predicted a normal monsoon this year. This may not mean much of good news right now for the parched throats in regions like Marathwada, but it at least eases the mind.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that precipitation in the rainy season starting in June is seen at 106 per cent of a 50-year average of 89 centimeters (35 inches) as the El Nino that often triggers dry weather in the region is weakening.

This forecast has comes close on the heels of the prediction made by the private forecaster Skymet Weather Services which had said that the showers may be 105 percent of the average. Both forecasts have a 5 percent margin of error.

The monsoon affects both summer and winter sowing, and waters more than half of all farmland. Rainfall was 14 percent below a 50-year average in 2015, following a 12 percent shortfall in 2014, data from the India Meteorological Department shows.

According to forecasters from the United States to Australia, El Nino has already peaked and will continue to decline. The chances of a La Nina developing this year have increased to 50 percent as the Pacific Ocean cools, says Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology.

La Nina, sometimes thought of as El Nino’s opposite, typically brings more rainfall to parts of Asia, including India. El Nino is a warming in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, while La Nina is a cooling off the waters. Each can impact agricultural markets as farmers contend with too much or too little rain. Based on the 26 El Nino events since 1900, about 50 percent have been followed by a neutral year and 40 percent by La Nina.

An Indian perspective analysis of previous data suggests that monsoon season rainfall over the country as a whole was deficient or below normal during 65 percent of the El Nino years. It was 71 percent in the years followed by El Nino. A normal monsoon always augurs well for the economy as it will mean greater purchasing power for the rural sector with a multiplier effect on growth through demand for consumer durables and consequential investment growth.

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