Monsoon cheer as El Nino ends

Nalgonda-drought_j_2868293fA farmer in his dried up cotton field at Chandampet Mandal in Nalgonda, Telangana.

This could cause monsoon to spill over to October: Officials.

Australia’s weather bureau said the withering El Nino — among the strongest in history and responsible for two years of consecutive droughts and record summer temperatures in India — had ended. While that bodes well for the monsoon, weather officials in India said this could also be a precursor to floods during August and September and monsoon possibly spilling over to October.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said on Tuesday that there was “…little chance of [sea surface temperatures] returning to El Niño levels, in which case mid-May will mark the end of the 2015–16 El Niño.” Typically, an El Nino — marked by above-average temperatures in the Pacific — that begins to cool is followed by a neutral phase before transitioning into La Nina, a phenomenon of below-normal temperatures. The latter brings heavy rain over India.

“Changes in the tropical Pacific Ocean and atmosphere, combined with current climate model outlooks, suggest the likelihood of La Niña forming later in 2016 is around 50%,” said the agency’s press statement. “It’s good news…there is a good chance that La Nina conditions will begin to show up in the second half of monsoon. August could mean heavy rain and we might see some monsoon rain in October also,” said Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Gains for agriculture

Private weather agency Skymet said in a Wednesday statement that it expected all of the monsoon months, except June, to record rains well above what’s usual and would translate into gains for Indian agriculture.

“In the year 2016, the total area under kharif food grains is expected to increase by 15 to 20% over last year. Accordingly, the kharif food grains production is expected to be around 129 to 130 million tonnes. Area under oilseeds including soybean, groundnut, pulses (tur, moong and urad) and rice may increase. Area under cotton may reduce marginally while total agricultural land under sugarcane may remain the same as previous year,” Skymet said in a statement.

According to the IMD’s latest update, the monsoon is likely to set in on June 7 over Kerala. This was partly due to a depression in the Bay of Bengal that morphed into cyclone Roanu and brought heavy rains to Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and killed at least 20 in Bangladesh.

The monsoon-rain-bearing systems were yet to gain enough force to coast over India and though the El Nino was gone, it would take some time for its effect to spill over into the atmosphere and aid the monsoon, said Rajeevan. These developments would be factored into IMD’s update — next month — to the April monsoon forecast, that had forecast monsoon rains to be 106% of the 89 cm historical average

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