IMD predicts normal southwest monsoon for 2018

IMD has predicted a third successive normal monsoon. PTI File 

The southwest monsoon is expected to be normal in 2018 during which the country might receive 97% of its average rainfall boosting the trillion dollar economy, India Meteorological Department announced on Monday.

“We expect a normal monsoon in 2018 with 97% average rainfall. The forecast comes with an error margin of 5% on either side,” IMD director general K J Ramesh said here.

The monsoon delivers nearly 70% of India’s annual rainfall and determines the productivity of summer crops like rice, wheat, sugarcane, pulses and soybeans. A good monsoon means better farm output, which in turn gives the economy a shot in the arm.

The April forecast is an outcome based on two independent sets of forecasting models operated by the IMD. One of them (statistical model) uses five global climate phenomena as inputs to come up with a forecast of 97%. The second one (dynamic model) developed under the national monsoon mission, generated a forecast of 99% rainfall.

As of now, the probability for a normal monsoon is 42%.

But it is not that there are no worries. At the moment, there is no threat of an El Nino — an unusual warming of the Pacific Ocean that plays havoc with weather around the world — but there is a possibility of a weak El Nino towards the later half of the monsoon season.

To make matters worse, there is also a chance of a negative IOD or Indian Ocean Dipole — a temperature seesaw in the Indian Ocean. A negative IOD is bad news for the monsoon.

“The current neutral conditions are likely to turn to negative IOD conditions during the monsoon season,” said D S Pai, head of climate prediction at the IMD.

IMD also suggests a 30% probability of “below normal” rainfall and 14% chance of a “deficient” monsoon. “IMD is carefully monitoring the sea surface conditions over the Pacific and Indian Oceans,” Pai said.

Asked on what basis the IMD is confident of a normal monsoon, Ramesh said, “Our scientific wisdom suggests, it would be a normal monsoon in 2018.”

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