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Monsoon in India in 2018 to be normal, southern states to receive less rainfall, predicts Skymet

Monsoon rains in India are expected to be average in 2018, Skymet said on Wednesday, raising prospects of higher farm and economic growth in the $2 trillion economy. Skymet Weather has forecast a 20 percent chance of an above normal monsoon, and a 5 percent chance of excess rain for India in 2018. India 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 beginning June. The state-run India Meteorological Department will come out with its monsoon forecast in mid-April.
According to the Skymet report, there is 5 percent chance of excess rain (seasonal rainfall more than 110 percent of long-period average); 20 percent chance of above normal rains (between 105-110 percent of LPA); 55 percent probability of normal rains and 20 percent chance of below normal rains. Further, Skymet said that there's a zero percent chance of drought ( less than 90 percent LPA).
The Skymet forecast has, however, predicted less rainfall in southern states. According to the predictions, Coastal Karnataka, Kerala and south interior Karnataka will receive less rainfall.

A table explaining probability of Monsoon from June through September. Image courtesy: Skymet

India 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 beginning June. According to Skymet Weather's tweet, Monsoon 2018 is likely to remain normal at 100 percent (with an error margin of +/-5 percent) of the long period average (LPA) of 887 mm for the four-month period from June to September.

Since, India’s economic survey has pinpointed agriculture as one of the major focus areas for Indian economy this year, an above average monsoon could translate into higher growth. This should be good news for a monsoon reliant economy like India if it is to achieve the target 8 percent GDP growth in FY19.
Interestingly, while Skymet has forecast an above normal monsoon, Maharashtra, a major monsoon-reliant state, has registered a decrease in its farm sector output to 8.3 percent in 2017-18 due to a weak monsoon. A better than expected monsoon in Maharashtra and even Uttar Pradesh could spur overall economic growth. In Uttar Pradesh, Skymet sees a feeble cyclonic circulation over the central and eastern parts. Further, the report says that this expected rainfall will not have any impact on the currently high temperature in the state.
However this doesn’t mean farmers can rest easy. While June is likely to receive excess rainfall, there is still, on average, a 30 percent chance that the key monsoon months of July and August would see ‘below normal’ — or a greater than 10 percent deficit in their normal quotas — rains. July and August bring in half the monsoon rains and are crucial for a good harvest.
Meanwhile, India Meteorological Department (IMD) will come out with its monsoon forecast in mid-April.
Last year, India got 95 per cent of it’s normal monsoon quota. June and July got more than it’s usual quota while August and September saw significant deficits. Before 2016, India had suffered back-to-back drought years for only the fourth time in more than a century, hurting incomes and driving farmers to suicide.

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