Monsoon rains are likely to hit India’s southern coast around June 3, largely in line with typical patterns, the state-run India Meteorological Department said in its latest revised forecast on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, the weather office had said the start of the monsoon would be on May 31.

The leading edge of the southwest monsoon advanced across central Sri Lanka between May 27 and 29, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

“At this rate, the monsoon is forecast to surge forward into southern Kerala and Tamil Nadu right on schedule,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty.

The southwest monsoon typically arrives on June 1 in the southernmost portion of India.

The latest weather forecast showed that southwesterly winds could strengthen further gradually from June 1, resulting in a likely enhancement in rainfall over the southern state of Kerala, the forecast said.

“Hence the monsoon onset over Kerala is likely to take place by 3rd June 2021,” it said.

Nearly half of India’s farmland has no irrigation and depends on annual June-September rains to grow crops such as rice, corn, cane, cotton and soybeans.

India’s weather office said last month the country was expected to get average monsoon rains this year, raising expectations of higher farm output, which is central to the country’s economy.

On average, the monsoon gradually spreads from southeast to northwest across India throughout the month of June then into parts of Pakistan during early July.

The monsoon season typically lasts from June to September and brings the bulk of annual precipitation. Some locations, like Mumbai, average as much as 2,200 mm (87 inches) of rainfall.

According to AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls, the monsoon’s advance is expected to be relatively steady with a few of the usual surges and stalls. The leading edge should clear most of India and enter Pakistan by mid-July.

“Rainfall during June should be near to above normal in many areas, but it can be drier than normal in northwestern India,” said Nicholls.

However, by July or early August, drier conditions may develop from Kerala and Karnataka in the southwest to Odisha and West Bengal in the northeast, which can cause rainfall amounts to fall below normal for the season.

Nicholls added, there is potential for this dryness to spread into parts of Tamil Nadu and northwestern India as well as the neighboring countries of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Dryness in northwestern India during the end of the season as well as a later start to the monsoon can cause rainfall totals in parts of northern Gujarat and Rajasthan to fall well below normal.

According to Nicholls, the southwest monsoon accounts for about 70% of India’s annual rainfall. The monsoonal rains help to replenish water supply reservoirs, create hydropower and drive the agricultural industry, which employs about half of the population.

The increased moisture and precipitation can also increase cloud cover, which helps to drop temperatures across the country. Precipitation and periods of gusty winds can improve the air quality compared to the dry months.

While the monsoon can bring beneficial rain to the country, the rounds of torrential rain can cause flash flooding, mudslides and washouts as well as knock over trees that can damage homes, create power outages and cut off rural communities.

The monsoon also brings more thunderstorms with frequent lightning strikes, which can lead to deaths with many working outside and no opportunity to seek shelter in hazardous weather.

Hundreds of people have been killed each year amid the monsoon downpours.

Additional factors can also complicate the monsoon season this year.

India is still recovering from an aggressive second wave of coronavirus cases that struck the region and set grim, new world records.

As of Sunday, more than 325,000 deaths due to the coronavirus have been reported in India and the number of confirmed cases is more than 27.8 million, according to Johns Hopkins. The COVID-19 death toll in India surged past the 300,000 mark on May 24, making the country just the third in the world to reach the grim milestone. According to Reuters, 100,000 of those fatalities have occurred over the last three weeks. The India government on Thursday dismissed as “completely baseless” a recent New York Times report on COVID-19 toll in India, saying it is not backed by any evidence. At a press conference, the Union Health Ministry said the report is absolutely false and based on “distorted estimates.” The report Just how big could India’s true Covid toll be estimated 600,000 deaths due to the infection in the country in a conservative scenario, 1.6 million estimated deaths in a more likely scenario and 4.2 million estimated deaths in a worse scenario. Dismissing the report, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said, “It is completely baseless and absolutely false and not backed on any evidence.” On May 6, India reported a daily record of 414,188 new cases, according to Johns Hopkins University. The highest number of deaths in a day occurred on May 18 with 4,529 reports.

The surge of coronavirus cases in India was complicated by cases of mucormycosis, informally known as “Black Fungus.”

Areas of flooding during the monsoon season may prevent residents from reaching hospitals, slow down the distribution vaccines and cause medical facilities to close.

Coastal communities in Gujarat are still recovering from a direct hit from Cyclone Tauktae during the middle of the month, as well as in Odisha and West Bengal where Cyclone Yaas made landfall last week.

An increase in tropical activity in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea typically bookends the southwest monsoon season.

Late Arrival of Monsoon Rains in India May Delay Sowing of Crops

A Bloomberg report said:

Sowing of major crops such as rice, corn and soybeans may be delayed in India as the southwest monsoon is set to reach the mainland two days later than usual.

The Indian national weather forecaster had earlier predicted an onset date of May 31 for the June-September rainy season, which typically starts on June 1.

Timely arrival of the monsoon is critical for India’s crop output and economic growth at a time when the country is battling the world’s worst outbreak of Covid-19. The virus has spread to rural areas, where about 70% of the nation’s more than 1.3 billion people live. Agriculture accounts for 18% of its economy.

Farmers generally wait for the monsoon to start before they begin planting food grains, cotton, soybeans, peanuts and sugarcane. Any deficit in rains during the early part of the season could delay sowing and reduce harvests, even if the monsoon gathers pace later.

The meteorological department forecast in April that annual rainfall during the monsoon season would be long-term average. Last year’s monsoon rain was 9% higher than normal, and it was 10% more than the long-term average in 2019. Bountiful rains helped crops and boosted India’s food grain output to a record in 2020-21.


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