The India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecasts a 'normal' monsoon this year despite a high probability of El Niño during the upcoming rainy season.

The weather forecaster predicts El Niño conditions to develop over the equatorial Pacific Ocean and positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions over the Indian Ocean.

Rainfall due to the southwest monsoon is expected to be 'below normal' in northwest India but 'normal' over central India, northeast India and south peninsular India

The southwest monsoon seasonal rainfall over most of the rainfed agriculture areas in the country is most likely to be 'normal', says the met department.

This comes days after the weather office said that the southwest monsoon over Kerala is likely to be slightly delayed than its normal arrival date of June 1. The monsoon onset over Kerala is likely to be on June 4, as per IMD.

In June, 'below normal' monthly rainfall is expected over most parts of the country except some areas of south peninsular India, northwest India, extreme north India and some isolated pockets of northeast India, where 'above normal' rainfall is expected, says IMD.

'Above-normal' monthly maximum temperatures are likely over most parts of the country, except for the extreme north and some parts of the southern peninsular India, where 'below-normal' and 'normal temperatures' respectively are likely, it says.

"As sea surface temperature (SST) conditions over the Pacific and the Indian Oceans are known to have strong influence on Indian monsoon, India Meteorological Department (IMD) is carefully monitoring the evolution of sea surface conditions over these Ocean basins," the national weather forecaster says.

IMD will issue the forecast for the July rainfall in the last week of June.

Private weather forecaster Skymet expects the southwest monsoon to hit the Kerala coast on June 7, a week-long delay from the normal onset date. The onset will be delayed and the advancement slightly sluggish over peninsular India, Skymet said earlier this month.

The weather agency cautioned that hot weather will continue deep into June this year over central and northern parts of the country which may not augur well for Kharif sowing.

Skymet expects the upcoming monsoon season to be 'below normal' amid an increasing possibility of El Nino.

Since the year 2000, the monsoon arrived earliest on May 18, 2004. The most delayed arrival was on June 8, 2003, and 2019 during this period. "Season 2004 happened to be a drought year and years 2003 & 2019 were observed as normal and above normal respectively. It suffices to allay fears that early or late arrival has any overall bearing on the status of the seasonal rainfall," says Skymet.

According to India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), elevated temperatures across India could not only affect the country's agricultural output but also keep inflation at elevated levels. Ind-Ra warns that this can have an impact on rural demand which has been under stress in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The rating agency, however, believes the increase in rabi crop output in recent years has lessened the adverse impact of the deficient monsoon on India's agriculture. "Historically, agriculture production used to be higher in the kharif season than in the rabi season. However, rabi food grain output/production over the past several years has been mostly either at par or higher (consistently during FY18 to FY22) than kharif production," Ind-Ra says.

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