2021 Monsoon in India: A positive outlook as September heralds the end of a drier than average August
The end of August heralded the beginning of better days in India as improved monsoon conditions return to the Central and Northwestern areas and September is promising to be better than what was a drier than average August.
In the IPGA Knowledge Series Kharif Sowing Review 2021, D.S. Pai of the Office of Climate Research and Services gave an overview of the weather in June, July and August as well as some predictions for the following three months.
Unusual arrival times signalled an interesting start to the monsoon season in India. While the monsoon rains arrived on schedule over the South, East and Northeast, in the Southwest they were delayed by 3 days, arriving on June 3 rather than the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predictions of May 31.
Meanwhile, in the central and most northern parts of India, the monsoons arrived between 7 and 10 days early.
By June 19, the monsoons had covered most of the country except parts of Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab, advancing into these remaining parts only from July 11 and covering the entire country by July 13. This represented a delay of between 1 and 2 weeks for these Northwestern areas.
As of August 26 2021, conditions were generally normal in Central and Northeast India while there was a lack of rainfall in the Northwest and extreme Southwest and some excess rainfall in the South.
Generally, there was good rainfall until the end of July before a hiatus in August, during which most days showed below normal rainfall. Many places had large variations from one week to the next.
Kharif sowers were concerned by the below average rainfall across the Northwest, East and Southwest in August.
Compared to previous years, the monsoon rains were significantly fewer in August 2021 with a mere 221 incidences of Very Heavy (115.6 to 204.5) rainfall compared to 1008 in 2020 and 987 in 2019. Incidences of Extremely Heavy (more than 204.5) rainfall fell to just 24 in August of this year compared to 165 and 282 in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
However, Mr. Pai predicted improved conditions in the next three months, coinciding with the harvest. As early as the day after his presentation on August 26, good rains were set to be moving in across the country. In September, heavy rains are predicted to move away from the Southern Peninsula and up towards the Central, North and Northwestern areas.
Mr. Pai also predicted normal to above normal rains across almost the entire country throughout September, October and November, with below normal rains only in some parts of the extreme North, Central and extreme South.
Despite concerns over low rainfall being assuaged by the end of the presentation and the promise of good rain over the next three months, they were replaced by the possibility that the delayed monsoon conditions could mean heavy rains will disrupt the harvest in October.
However, in the short term conditions are at least looking more positive for the beginning of Autumn in India.