Posts Tagged ‘Monsoon 2015’

Indian monsoon season ends – deficient but no disaster

October 2, 2015

The official 4 month monsoon season (June – September) has ended and the cumulative rainfall falls into the “average” category (from -20% to + 20% of the long-term average), but only just, at -14% for the country as a whole. Rainfall was high in June, quite low in July and August and recovered somewhat in September. Good rainfall continues in October as the monsoon withdraws. Much of this is in deficient regions of Central and South India which will further mitigate the deficiency numbers.

There is some relief that in spite of 2015 being an El Niño year, the overall picture is one of some deficiency but no disaster. Locally there have been wide variations, even between contiguous regions:

  • Jammu & Kashmir recorded 15% excess rains, while next door, Himachal Pradesh was 23% deficient.
  • West Rajasthan recorded 46% excess, while East Rajasthan ended 10% down.
  • Telangana remained rain deficit to the tune of 20% and Andhra Pradesh recorded 10% excess.
  • West Madhya Pradesh recorded normal rains and was at +4% while East Madhya Pradesh was 29% in deficit.
  • West Bengal recorded 8% excess while adjacent Jharkhand was 14% in deficit.
  • Both Marathwada (-40%) and Vidarbha (-11%) were in rain deficit but the variation was large.

From a growth perspective, the 2015 monsoon will be a neutral event (i.e. it will make its “normal” contribution to the economic cycle). The impact will not provide any additional impetus to growth but will not hinder growth either.

As the Reserve Bank has now reduced its reference interest rates by 50 basis points and most of the banks now seem to be passing on about 40 basis point reductions to their lending rates, the cost of lending is likely – for this year – to be have a much greater impact on the economy than the effects of the monsoon. But at least the monsoon will now play its “normal” part in feeding the economic cycle. The monsoon deficiency should not contribute too much to inflation in food prices.

The immediate impact of a good monsoon is increased employment in rural areas (September – October) followed by increased rural consumption of consumer goods (October – December) and even sales of two-wheelers and tractors (November – March). Pesticide sales increase during the monsoon and again in the following pre-monsoon period. Fertiliser sales pick-up strongly in the pre-monsoon period following a good monsoon. The December – June period following a good monsoon is when rural “investments” are mainly made (machinery, equipment, construction, consumer goods). The indirect effects of agriculture on the services and manufacturing sectors are critical. However, even more important is the effect of a good monsoon on food price stability and general economic sentiment.

But I foresee no booms or fireworks in Indian economic activity over the next 6 months. That requires – among other things – the “feel-good” factor that a bumper monsoon brings. Still, 12 months of steady, sustainable growth is probably more valuable than some short-lived volatile balloon of activity.

After the China circus, steady rather than spectacular will be a welcome relief.

Monsoon 2015 - Deficient but no disaster Source IMD

Monsoon 2015 – Deficient but no disaster Source IMD

Indian monsoon sets in, risk for deficiency remains but so far, so good

June 8, 2015

The long range forecast was revised a few weeks ago and there is a risk that this year’s monsoon may be somewhat deficient. But the onset has not been much delayed and the first week’s rainfall is slightly above “normal. The second LRF cast a shadow over the markets when it was announced. But the pessimism may have been overdone.

2nd stage Long Range Forecast:

  • Rainfall over the country as a whole for the 2015 southwest monsoon season (June to September) is likely to be deficient (<90% of LPA).
  • Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be 88% of the long period average with a model error of ±4%.
  • Region wise, the season rainfall is likely to be 85% of LPA over North-West India, 90% of LPA over Central India, 92% of LPA over South Peninsula and 90% of LPA over North-East India all with a model error of ± 8 %.
  • The monthly rainfall over the country as whole is likely to be 92% of its LPA during July and 90% of LPA during August both with a model error of ± 9 %.

The monsoon onset was just a couple of days “late” compared to the forecast date (which is in itself always a warning sign). Furthermore, this year could be an El Nino (albeit weak El Nino) year which could depress rainfall levels. One week into the 13 week monsoon season, however, rainfall is running at 4% above the long term average.

monsoon advance June 6th 2015

monsoon advance June 6th 2015

The northern and western ends of the front are progressing well but the central section is well behind its “normal” advance. In terms of rainfall distribution the north-east and the south which usually receive the highest rainfall by this time are running slightly ahead of normal. The central and north-west region receive low levels of rainfall in  this period but the north-west is running 44% above normal while the central regions are deficient and running at -20%.

rainfall till 6th June 2015

The warnings about potential deficiency has led to the government planning measures for those farmers who are not “covered” by irrigation networks and are solely dependent upon rainfall.

But, so far, so good.

Weak El Nino conditions but timely monsoon still expected

May 18, 2015

El Nino conditions can suppress the Indian southwest monsoon. Weak El Nino conditions exist for the second year running but the IMD’s forecast is for the monsoon to hit the mainland at Kerala on 30th May ± 4 days.

Whenever an El Nino is about, the doomsayers compete with catastrophe scenarios, but the possibility of a “bad” monsoon in 2015 is diminishing.The economic and industrial recovery should not be adversely affected to any great extent.

Forecasts for the last nine years (2005 to 2014) were as in the table below.

Monsoon onset dates.emf

A timely monsoon (onset during May) does not necessarily mean a “good” monsoon during the official 4 months (June to September) of the season, but does decrease the probability of a “bad” monsoon. The pre-monsoon rains during May have been somewhat higher than normal but not uniformly across the country. Rainfall at the wrong time is not that useful of course but early rainfall in May and late rainfall in October does still have value.

IMD ForecastFor the last about six months, positive SST anomalies have been prevailing over the western and the central Pacific Ocean. However, the SSTs over eastern Pacific after remaining near to below normal between late December 2014 and mid-March 2015 have now become above normal. Thus currently, weak El Nino conditions are prevailing over the Pacific.

The latest forecast from the IMD-IITM coupled model forecast indicates El Nino conditions are likely to persist during the southwest monsoon season.

At present, slight negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions are prevailing over Indian Ocean. The latest forecast from the coupled model indicates negative IOD conditions are likely to persist during the monsoon season. ……. the extreme sea surface temperature conditions over Pacific and Indian Oceans particularly ENSO conditions over Pacific (El Nino or La Nina) are known to have strong influence on the Indian summer monsoon.

 Quantitatively, the monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 93% of the Long Period Average (LPA) with a model error of ± 5%. The LPA of the season rainfall over the country as a whole for the period 1951-2000 is 89 cm.

It is early days yet, but currently the advancing monsoon front is past the Andamans and slightly ahead of the long term average.

Monsoon front May 2015 IMD

Monsoon front May 2015 IMD

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