Private weather forecasting agency Skymet on Monday came out with a ‘below normal’ forecast for the Southwest monsoon in 2017. The Skymet forecast comes almost a month ahead of the Indian Meteorological Department’s (IMD) official monsoon forecast. “Monsoon 2017 is likely to remain below normal at 95% (with an error margin of plus or minus 5%) of the long period average (LPA) of 887 mm for the four-month period from June to September,” Skymet Weather said in a press statement.
A source in IMD told DH that the firm did not run any weather forecast model and used publicly available forecasts of scientific agencies all over the world to make its forecast. Also, its previous two monsoon forecasts in 2015 and 2016 were wrong. On its website, Skymet claims to have a network of more than 3,500 automatic weather stations in 20 states. But weather scientists point out that AWS data is required only to verify the monsoon forecast and have barely any role in the forecast per se.
The company predicts 0% chance of excess rainfall and 15% chance of drought in the 2017 monsoon season. It forecasts 50% chance of a normal monsoon and 25% chance of a below normal monsoon. The forecast comes at a time when weather scientists are keeping their fingers crossed on the El Nino— an unusual rise in ocean temperature that plays havoc with the weather around the world – because emergence of El Nino will be seen only after July.
Most of the time El Nino weakens Indian monsoon leading to drought or less rainfall. However, there are some contradictory evidences too. Weather forecasters in the US, Japan and Australia had earlier warned about a 50% chance of El Nino occurring later this year. The pattern will be clear after July.
The southwest monsoon, which usually hits the Kerala coast around June 1, is the life blood of India’s farm-driven economy. India witnessed a surplus monsoon year in 2016 after two successive deficient years in 2014 and 2015.