According to the latest forecast of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), monsoon‘s expected arrival in Himachal Pradesh and western Uttar Pradesh is barely a couple of days delayed — a significant turnaround for the monsoon that arrived a week late and struggled for three weeks before regaining momentum.
Rainfall in June was 33% below normal, making it one of the three worst starts for the monsoon in more than half a century. This had prompted authorities to be on alert for drought relief apart from dampening the mood of rural India, which is an important market for automobiles, appliances, gold and various consumer goods.
The mood is likely to improve. The low-pressure area over the sea is forecast to intensify into a ‘depression’ which will drench Odisha, Telangana, parts of Madhya Pradesh, rain-starved Vidarbha region of Maharashtra along with parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat, the India Meteorological Department said. “In association with this, conditions are very likely to become favourable for further advance of Southwest Monsoon into remaining parts of central India, some more parts of western India and some parts of east Rajasthan during July 1-3.
Conditions are also very likely to become favourable for advance of southwest monsoon into remaining parts of East Uttar Pradesh & Uttarakhand, many parts of West Uttar Pradesh and some parts of Himachal Pradesh during July 2-4,” the IMD said. It has issued a red-alert for torrential rain in parts of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh. This is expected to fill up drained out reservoirs and prepare the ground for crop planting. So far, farmers have planted kharif, or summer-sown, crops in 10% less area than last year.
This is an improvement over the shortfall of 12.5% a week ago, when the country was much drier, with total rainfall being 43% less than average, which has improved significantly to a shortfall of 33%. The southwest monsoon began on a weak note as rain-busting El Niño was developing in the Pacific Ocean. This phenomenon is associated with warming of surface waters in the ocean, which weakens the flow of winds that boost the monsoon.
Things changed last week when international forecasters declared that El Niño was unlikely in the next few months. The monsoon has been markedly stronger since then and is expected to deliver much higher rainfall in July. Crop scientists say July and August are the most crucial monsoon months. The shortfall in June only leads to delayed planting but dry weather in the following two months directly impacts the growth and has a much bigger impact on yields compared with late planting or use of shortduration crops.