IMD predicts dry spells in Maharashtra, less rainfall will affect agriculture

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Nagpur : The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted below average rainfall in interior Maharashtra and the region may witness dry spells. While there is also prediction that Mumbai will enjoy southwest monsoon for four months, i.e from June to September.

Akshay Deoras, meteorologist and independent meteorological advisor to the Maharashtra government, said preliminary estimates indicate that Konkan coast and most areas in Vidarbha could expect normal seasonal rainfall but the probability of below average rainfall appears to be more in Marathwada and central Maharashtra, especially during the months of July and August.

He said dry spells during important monsoon months may affect agriculture cultivation. “Dry spells are natural phenomenon and part of the monsoon but their frequency and duration in Maharashtra have been a matter of concern over the last few years. Hence, instead of blindly considering a national rainfall average figure, farmers must consider factors like dry spells and rainfall distribution while planning,” said Deoras.

The southwest monsoon over Mumbai is officially declared from June to September. According to IMD, the southwest monsoon hits Kerala by June 1 and the onset date for Maharashtra and Mumbai are between June 8 and 10.

On Monday IMD said the seasonal rainfall for India is likely to be 97% of the long period average (LPA) with a model error of plus or minus 5%, which means 97% of near normal showers. The probability of normal to excess rains is 56% (42% normal, 12% above normal and 2% excess forecast probability) and below normal and deficit rain is 44% (30% below normal and 14% deficient).

“It is not necessary that the all-India normal will be applicable for Maharashtra. It is a matter of concern that the possibility of below normal rainfall for interior Maharashtra as a result of the phenomenon when sea surface temperatures starts warming in the Pacific Ocean but not, El Niño conditions (see box) per say, rainfall tends to get suppressed in the Marathwada and Madhya Maharashtra region,” said Deoras. “This phenomenon is being observed along the Pacific currently, and this heating is expected to increase. We observed a similar phenomenon in 2014 and last year, which suppressed rainfall and led to dry spells.”

IMD in Nagpur had decided to keep press meeting on monsoon predictions for Maharashtra and central India on Monday. However, they decided to call it off as the IMD New Delhi only issued country-wide monsoon forecast, said officials.

“IMD uses weather models, charts and supercomputers based World Meteorological Organisation standards and state of the art technology from Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. To use the same framework for region-wise prediction, with changing weather synoptic situations globally, takes time. As of now we should not issue predictions, as that will worry farmers in central India. We should wait till accurate forecasts are ready,” said AD Tathe, scientist, IMD Nagpur.