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Monsoon forecast scaled down to deficient

India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday scaled down its projections for the 2014 southwest monsoon to deficient, even as it downplayed fear of a re-emergence of the dreaded El Niño weather phenomenon. In its June estimate, the department had said monsoon could be moderately sub-normal.

On Tuesday, IMD pegged rainfall at a precise 87 per cent of the long-period average (LPA) — the average of rainfall received by the country in 50 years from 1951 (89 cm). Tuesday’s forecast is six percentage points less than the June projection of 93 per cent of LPA and eight percentage points lower than the April estimate of 95 per cent. The scaling down implies the monsoon this year could slip into the “below normal” bracket. Rainfall above 96 per cent but below 104 per cent of LPA is taken as normal, while anything under 90 per cent falls in the “deficient” category. The forecast has a model error of plus or minus four per cent.

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“We have scaled down the forecast from June due to a rain shortfall of more than 40 per cent in the first 45 days of this season,” Union Minister of State for Science & Technology Jitendra Singh said. The deficiency, though, was later reduced a little and the rainfall as of August 11 was 17 per cent below normal.

This year’s worst rainfall, bordering on a drought, is expected in Northwest India, which comprises major foodgrain producers Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Met said there was 68 per cent chance of a drought in the country. The weather department said rainfall in the Northwest region was expected to be 76 per cent of LPA. A rainfall shortage of more than 25 per cent of LPA is classified as drought. The current forecast shows monsoon deficit in Northwest India could be 24 per cent less than normal. “Rainfall at 76 per cent of LPA in the Northwest might not have a big impact on final output, as the region is well-irrigated. The only problem could be on the groundwater level, which can be compensated next year,” P K Joshi, director for South Asia at the International Food Policy Research Institute told Business Standard.

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“We have scaled down the forecast from June due to a rain shortfall of more than 40 per cent in the first 45 days of this season,” Union Minister of State for Science & Technology Jitendra Singh said. The deficiency, though, was later reduced a little and the rainfall as of August 11 was 17 per cent below normal.

This year’s worst rainfall, bordering on a drought, is expected in Northwest India, which comprises major foodgrain producers Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Met said there was 68 per cent chance of a drought in the country. The weather department said rainfall in the Northwest region was expected to be 76 per cent of LPA. A rainfall shortage of more than 25 per cent of LPA is classified as drought. The current forecast shows monsoon deficit in Northwest India could be 24 per cent less than normal. “Rainfall at 76 per cent of LPA in the Northwest might not have a big impact on final output, as the region is well-irrigated. The only problem could be on the groundwater level, which can be compensated next year,” P K Joshi, director for South Asia at the International Food Policy Research Institute told Business Standard.

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