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Southwest Monsoon set to reach Kerala around May 31

New Delhi: The Southwest Monsoon, vital for India’s agricultural economy, is predicted to make its appearance over Kerala around May 31, with a possible deviation of four days, marking the beginning of a four-month rainfall season.

India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra clarified on Wednesday that this arrival date is not early but aligns with the usual onset date of June 1 for the Monsoon over Kerala.

The date of Monsoon onset over Kerala has varied widely over the last 150 years, the earliest being May 11, 1918, and the most delayed being June 18, 1972, according to IMD data. The rain-bearing system arrived in the southern state on June 8 last year, May 29 in 2022, June 3 in 2021 and June 1 in 2020.

Last month, the IMD had forecast above-normal rain in the Monsoon season in India with favourable La Niña conditions expected to set in by August-September.

In the previous month, the IMD had projected a higher-than-average rainfall for the Southwest Monsoon season from June to September.

Mrutyunjay Mohapatra mentioned last month another contributing factor - a lower-than-average snow cover in the northern hemisphere and Eurasia. Historically, there has been an “inverse relationship” between the snow levels in these regions and the Monsoon.

Parts of the country battled brutal heat in April, with maximum temperatures shattering records in several states and severely impacting health and livelihoods.

The crippling heat is straining power grids and drying up water bodies triggering drought-like conditions in parts of the country. A prediction of above-normal Monsoonal rainfall, therefore, comes as a huge relief to the fast-developing South Asian nation.

The Monsoon is critical for India’s agricultural landscape, with 52 per cent of the net cultivated area relying on it. It is also crucial for replenishing reservoirs critical for drinking water, apart from power generation across the country.June and July are considered the most important Monsoon months for agriculture because most of the sowing for the Kharif crop takes place during this period.El Nino conditions are prevailing at present, and La Nina may set in by August-September, scientists say.

El Nino - the periodic warming of surface waters in the central Pacific Ocean - is associated with weaker Monsoon winds and drier conditions in India. La Nina - the antithesis of El Nino- leads to plentiful rainfall during the Monsoon season.

A positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), characterised by a cooler than usual Indian Ocean in the east compared to the west, was one of the two factors contributing to abundant rainfall. This condition aids in bringing rain to several southern Indian states.

Currently, the IOD is in a ‘neutral’ state but is anticipated to become positive by August.

Another factor is below-normal snow cover in the northern hemisphere and Eurasia. Historically, there has been an “inverse relationship” between the levels of snow here and the Monsoon.

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