Monsoon in India seen below average in 2015

New Delhi: India’s monsoon rains could be below average in 2015 due to an impact of El Nino weather pattern, which can bring on a dry spell in the region, the weather office said on Wednesday.

Earth Science Minister Harsh Vardhan
Earth Science Minister Harsh Vardhan

“The entire South Asian region is prone to below average rainfall this year except Sri Lanka and Maldives,” O P Sreejith told Reuters, after releasing the consensus forecast of the South Asian Climate Outlook Forum, a group of global weather experts affiliated to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Global models show an El Nino condition has been established in the Pacific Ocean but there is uncertainty about its intensity, Sreejith said.

“There is consensus about the potential for adverse impacts of El Nino on the region’s monsoon rainfall,” said Sreejith, a meteorologist with the Indian weather office.

El Nino, or a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, can prompt dry spells in Southeast Asia and Australia and heavy rains in South America, curbing food crop output.

In India, a strong El Nino could result in droughts during the monsoon season and hit crops from rice to sugar and cotton in the country which is one of the world’s leading producers of these farm commodities.

Rains are expected to be 93 percent of a long-term average, Earth Science Minister Harsh Vardhan said, after releasing the forecast of the India Meteorological Department.

India’s weather office defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96 percent and 104 percent of a 50-year average of 89 cm for the entire four-month season.

The latest forecast raises concerns for output prospects for major summer crops such as rice, cane, soybean and cotton in the country that is a key global producer of these farm commodities.

Indian monsoon rains were hit by El Nino weather pattern in 2009, when the four-month long monsoon season turned the driest in nearly four decades.