NEW DELHI: In what augurs well for monsoon’s performance in the rest of the season, the El Nino weather condition has weakened considerably over the past month and is now projected to fade away in a month or two, the latest update from US weather agencies said.
El Nino, the name given to anomalous heating in the east and central equatorial Pacific, generally weakens the Indian monsoon. Indian met officials said El Nino’s presence may have impacted the monsoon in June, which ended with a 33% deficiency.
Till last month, a weak El Nino was projected to continue through the monsoon season (September-end), and beyond. However, the latest joint update from the Climate Prediction Center and other US national agencies, released late Thursday, shows a dramatic weakening of the condition during the past month.
“A transition from El Nino to ENSO-neutral is expected in the next month or two, with ENSO-neutral most likely to continue through northern hemisphere fall and winter,” the update said.
India Meteorological Department officials said El Nino’s shadow over the monsoon was waning. “This is good news for the monsoon. While El Nino’s impact may not totally go away, it will certainly reduce from here on,” said D Sivananda Pai, head of monsoon forecasting at IMD.
While El Nino’s projected fade-out does not guarantee a good monsoon this year, it means that large-scale global conditions may not remain inimical to good rainfall during the season in India.
The difference in El Nino’s status from June to July was dramatic. The CPC’s June outlook gave a 66% chance of El Nino continuing during June-August, and 50-55% thereafter. In contrast, the July update says there is a 60% chance of a return to neutral conditions by July-September.
A few days ago, the Australian weather bureau had issued an El Nino “inactive” alert, saying there was little sign of El Nino or La Nina developing in the coming months. The Australian agency has a higher threshold for declaration of El Nino conditions.
Meanwhile, monsoon in July has been 22% above normal and the overall rain deficit since June 1 has reduced to 12%, from 33% at the end of last month. However, rainfall across the country, particularly central and northwest India, is expected to reduce over the next three-four days because of a brief lull in the monsoon. South India is expected to get some rain during this period, Pai said.
Kharif sowing improves
As expected, the wet start to the month of July has given a boost to the sowing of kharif crops, which had so far lagged behind due to poor rains.
Overall kharif sowing was 7.5% below the normal for the corresponding week, according to figures released by the agriculture ministry on Friday. This is a considerable improvement over the last week’s figures that showed a 27% lag in sowing activity.
The lag in paddy sowing narrowed to 19% from 34% last wzeek, on back of good rainfall in several rice-growing areas in east and central India, as well as east Uttar Pradesh. The sowing of pulses, which had a huge shortfall of 71% last week, has rapidly improved and the current shortfall is 30%. Similar improvements were seen in oilseeds and course cereals, although sowing still remains less than normal.