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Boost for monsoon as El Nino wanes

El Nino phenomenon is unlikely to develop in the months ahead: Australian Met Bureau

ET Bureau|
Jun 25, 2019, 11.38 PM IST
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Good news for India.
By Shashwat Mohanty

NEW DELHI: The southwest monsoon is likely to get a big boost as the El Nino phenomenon, which dries up the weather in India, has waned while positive changes in temperature in the Indian Ocean are likely to support rainfall, international forecasters say.

The widely respected Australian Bureau of Meteorology has withdrawn its El Nino alert. It said that the phenomenon, formally called El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) associated with the warming of surface waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is unlikely to develop in the months ahead.

This is good news for India, where two-thirds of the population resides in rural areas and half the agricultural area of the country depends entirely on rainfall for water.

“The immediate likelihood of El Nino developing has passed, meaning the ENSO Outlook has been reset to INACTIVE. While the possibility of El Nino can't be completely ruled out for 2019, the tropical Pacific Ocean is more likely than not to remain in an ENSO-neutral phase over the coming months,” it said in its fortnightly update.

In recent months, the Pacific Ocean had warmed up near the El Nino levels, but this has now reversed. “We've been monitoring the Pacific Ocean closely, and indicators have now eased away from El Nino thresholds," said Andrew Watkins, Head of Long-Range Forecasting at the Australian Weather Bureau.

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India’s monsoon made a shaky start and was about 45% below average until a week ago reducing sowing by 12.5 % at the end of last week. But the monsoon has started turning around now. A recent spurt in monsoon rainfall has reduced the deficit to 37%.

Officials at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) say the country’s total rainfall in the June-September monsoon season is likely to be 96% of normal, as forecast two months ago.

The IMD has also noted that another phenomenon called the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has turned positive, which is usually good for monsoon rainfall. The phenomenon refers to the difference in temperature between different parts of the Indian Ocean. The Australian weather office also expects the same.

“In the Indian Ocean, waters remain average to cooler than average in eastern parts, and warmer than average further west; a pattern typical of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). While the IOD index fell below the positive IOD threshold this week, climate models indicate this is likely to be temporary, with positive IOD values forecast to persist … ,” it said.

IMD said the monsoon had advanced to more parts of central and western India on Tuesday. The monsoon is quite vigorous in the east, it said.

“Active to vigorous monsoon conditions resulting in widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy and extremely heavy falls are very likely over Sub-Himalayan Bengal & Sikkim and Assam & Meghalaya and widespread rainfall with isolated heavy to very heavy falls over Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram & Tripura during next 2-3 days,” the IMD said.

It said that a low-pressure area was likely to form in the northern part of the Bay of Bengal by June 30. This is also expected to boost the monsoon.
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