Above normal 2016 Southwest Monsoon season expected


India's Meteorological Department declared the arrival of the of the 2016 Southwest Monsoon over the state of Kerala on June 8, 2016. The agency has announced earlier it is expecting an above normal season, easing fears over farm and economic growth after two consecutive years of drought.

Releasing its monsoon forecast for the season, IMD Director General Laxman Singh Rathore said, "Monsoon will be 106% of the long period average (LPA). There is 94% probability that monsoon will be normal to excess this year. By and large, there will be a fair distribution of monsoon across the country. But North-East India and South-East India, particularly Tamil Nadu, may get slightly less than normal rainfall."

Anything less than 90% of the LPA is termed as a "deficient" monsoon and 90 – 96% of the LPA is considered as "below normal." Monsoon is considered as "normal" if the LPA is between 96-104% of the LPA. "Above normal" monsoon is between 104 – 110% of the LPA and anything beyond 110% of the LPA is considered as "excess."

During the 2015 season, the monsoon deficiency was 14% (86% of LPA). Northwest India reported a deficiency of 17%, Central India 60%, Southern Peninsula 15%, and East and Northeast India 8%. The monsoon deficiency was 12.3% of the LPA in the 2014 season. The years 2014 & 2015 represented the fourth case of two consecutive all India deficient monsoon years during the last 115 years.

After severe heatwave that gripped the country this year, and an estimated 330 million people affected by depleted water supplies, the expected "above normal" rain comes as a huge relief.

Collectively, India’s 91 major reservoirs stood at 16% of their storage capacity on June 9, 2016, according to the nation’s Central Water Commission (CWC). That is about 58% of the water that was available in June 2015 and about 79% of the 10-year average. Some of the hardest hit states were Uttarakhand (storage down 77% compared to June 2015), Tamil Nadu (down 69%), and Maharashtra (down 67%). Of all of India’s reservoirs, Panchet Hill in Jharkhand was among the lowest compared to the 10-year average. In the first week of June 2016, the reservoir stood at 4% of capacity; the average for June is 40%.

On June 9, the city of Mumbai had just 25 days of water supplies left in its lakes. Despite a 20% water cut, which was imposed on Mumbaikars since August 2015, there is a deficit of nearly 67 816 million liters of water as compared to the stock on June 9 last year, the Times of India reported. The total stock in the seven lakes, which supply water to Mumbai, as on June 9 this year was 1.42 lakh million liters while it was 2 lakh million liters on the same day last year. "Last year by this time, Bhatsa and Tansa lakes had already started receiving some rain, which has not been the case this year," a civic official said.

The animation of weekly rainfall totals (below) was derived from NASA's Integrated Multi-satellite Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) data. It shows the encroachment of monsoon rainfall onto India's southwestern coast. Rainfall totals were color enhanced in this animation. Lower rainfall totals are displayed in green and higher amounts, reaching over 600 mm (23 inches) per week, are shown in light purple.

Extremely heavy rainfall is also shown by IMERG along the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar on the northeastern side of the Bay Of Bengal.

Since the beginning of June, heavy monsoon rains have caused flooding in five states and regions of Myanmar. According to the initial reports from the Government Relief and Resettlement Department, at least 26 000 people are affected in Ayeyarwady, Bago and Sagaing regions as well as Chin and Rakhine states. A total of 14 deaths have been reported, as of June 17.

Featured image: NASA/JAXA GPM


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