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From drought to deluge: Monsoon begins retreat after extended stay

October 9 withdrawal marks most delayed departure; season saw many rain records being drowned.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 10, 2019, 09.41 AM IST
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PUNE: The monsoon has finally begun withdrawing from north India — the most delayed departure ever — after smashing a series of records for intense rainfall in the season that began with the spectre of drought and ended with floods in many regions.

“In view of the persistence of an anticyclonic circulation in the lower tropospheric level over northwest India, gradual reduction in moisture in the lower and mid-tropospheric levels and reduction in rainfall, southwest monsoon has withdrawn from some parts of Punjab, Haryana and north Rajasthan today,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Wednesday.

The normal date for monsoon withdrawal is September 1. The most delayed withdrawals in the past were in 1961 (October 1) and 2007 (September 30).

The Met department said the monsoon would vacate the remaining parts of northern and central India in the next two days.
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The IMD had forecast a normal monsoon for 2019 in its long-range forecast in April and June, while private weather forecaster Skymet had predicted below normal rain. With 110% seasonal rainfall, monsoon 2019 has been classified as ‘above normal’.

KS Hosalikar, deputy director general of meteorology, IMD (Mumbai), said the monsoon’s progress was hindered by Cyclone Vayu just after its onset in Kerala this year.

“As the all-India rainfall deficit for June reached 30%, a lot of people started talking about the possibility of a deficient monsoon. However, the Met department stuck to its forecast of a normal monsoon issued in April, and again in June,” Hosalikar said.

With the monsoon starting to retreat from north-west India, rainfall activity is likely to remain confined over south peninsula with normal-to-above-normal rainfall over Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and most parts of northeastern states. “Monsoon 2019 will be remembered for smashing most records, including commencement of withdrawal,” said Hosalikar in a tweet.

The rainfall received by the country as a whole this year has been the highest in the past 25 years. After 1931, this is the first time seasonal rainfall is more than the long period average (LPA). This, despite June rainfall deficiency being more than 30% of the LPA. At 115% of LPA, August rainfall was the second highest in 23 years since 1996 (119% of LPA). Rainfall received in September (152% of LPA) was the second highest in 102 years.
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