New Delhi | Updated: October 7, 2016 5:06:59 pm
The El Nino phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is finally having its full impact on the Indian monsoon, with rainfall in August remaining more than 22.5 per cent deficient.
September, the last of the four-month monsoon season, is likely to be remain dry as well, in line with the forecast made by weather scientists in May that had predicted only 87 per cent rainfall this season.
“This is not unexpected. Our forecasts had indicated that the second half of the monsoon season was likely to be drier than the first half. And that is what seems to be happening. The dry spell that we have seen in August is likely to continue in September as well,” D Sivananda Pai of the Indian Meteorological Department said.
The chief villain, of course, is the El Nino factor. El Nino refers to a condition in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Ecuador and Peru in South America, in which ocean temperatures become unusually warm. This condition is known to have an impact on the Indian monsoon, besides affecting a lot of other weather events worldwide. There is a strong correlation between an El Nino event and a poor monsoon. The development of an El Nino this year had become very evident by April this year. There is a lag of about 5-6 months between the development of El Nino in the Pacific and its full impact on the monsoon.
The Met department, in its first forecast in April, had said that the country was likely to receive only 93 per cent of its normal rainfall this monsoon season. It had said there was a 68 per cent chance that rainfall would be “below normal”, or below 96 per cent of the normal rainfall. In June, it made a downward revision of its forecast and said the country as a whole was likely to get only 88 per cent of normal rainfall.
June, however, seemed to go against that prediction. It resulted in 16 per cent excess rainfall. Even July produced good rainfall in the second half after a prolonged dry period in in the first half. Scientists had attributed these deviations from the forecast to a phenomenon called Madden Julian Oscillation, a moving system of wind, cloud and pressure that brings rain as it circles the earth around the equator. Some convectional rainfall in July had also reduced the discomfort of low rainfall.
But by August, the full force of El Nino started getting felt. The first half of August saw a scarcity of as much as 26 per cent rainfall. The second half was slightly better but still 19 per cent deficient. Only eight
of the 36 meteorological sub-divisions have received normal or more rainfall in this season so far.
Latest predictions about the El Nino say it will not just strengthen further but also continue till the spring of next year which means it is likely to impact next year’s monsoon as well.
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