The monsoon is all set to make a timely arrival by May 15 over the Nicobar Islands and the Andaman Sea. The Southwest monsoon makes its mark first over the islands after which, under normal conditions, it takes about a fortnight to travel and cross over to hit the Indian mainland over the Kerala coast by June 1.
According to officials at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), there are favourable conditions building over the sea in the coming five days.
”Since a week, we have been observing heavy clouding and also convection over the Andaman Sea. The wind flow is also strong over the sea, which is an indicator of monsoon winds to report by May 15,” said A K Srivastava, head of climate monitoring and analysis group at IMD, Pune.
Last year, the monsoon had arrived over the islands by May 18 after which there was a sluggish progress towards the Indian mainland.
The country receives nearly 70 per cent of its annual rainfall from the Southwest monsoon, scheduled between June and September.
In April this year, IMD had, in its first monsoon forecast, issued that the country would see normal rainfall, and would be realising 96 per cent of the Long Range
Forecast (LRF). However, El Nino and its development, whether during or after the Indian summer monsoon, is yet to be ascertained.
El Nino is the abnormal heating of the sea surface along the east and east-central Pacific Ocean which affects the monsoon-bearing winds over the Indian subcontinent. Though there is no direct link between El Nino to the Southwest monsoon, many of the El Nino years have brought below normal rainfall over India.
“This is one of the crucial factors which we are closely monitoring. There will be a clearer picture only after understanding the Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) for the period of May,” stated another IMD official.
The first LRF had, however, categorically ruled out any interference of El Nino, at least during the first two monsoon months.