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State set to miss date with monsoon for sixth year

Patna, June 8: The southwest monsoon is all set to make a delayed entry in Bihar for the sixth consecutive year.

With the southwest monsoon hitting Kerala coast with a delay of four days on Friday, weathermen claimed the rain-bearing winds are likely to hit Bihar around June 16 and 17 — a delay of nearly a week.

Delayed monsoon apart, the El Nino weather phenomenon, which has been associated in the past with poor rainfall in south Asia, could lead to drought conditions in Bihar for the third consecutive year, a senior meteorologist in Patna has said.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had earlier this year issued a forecast of a monsoon rainfall slightly below normal — 95 per cent of the long-term average.

R.K. Giri, meteorologist at Patna meteorological centre, told The Telegraph: “The onset of monsoon in Bihar is expected to be delayed because the Bay of Bengal wing of monsoon has been inactive over the past couple of days. The cross equatorial flow is also not very active at present. Once any kinetic movement triggers the cross-equatorial flow, it would lead to further moisture incursion in the Bay of Bengal. This, in turn, would lead to advancement of monsoon current towards north-eastern states and then to Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.”

Normally, southwest monsoon enters Bihar through the north-eastern districts of Purnea and Katihar among others and gradually covers rest of the state within a day or two. Last year (2013), the monsoon entered through Purnea on June 15 and covered the entire state the same day.

The beginning of monsoon was quite good as the state received nine per cent surplus rainfall. However, it fell flat in July as the state received 47 per cent deficient rainfall. September also witnessed deficiency of 27 per cent.

With regard to expected El Nino impact this year, the IMD’s headquarters at New Delhi had earlier said its chances were around 60 per cent. IMD officials in Delhi on Friday didn’t foresee any El Nino impact in the month of June though.

Met experts here claimed that the peak monsoon months of July and August are likely to witness prolonged dry spells as a result of El Nino — a rise in the sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean.

“Normally, El Nino is declared when the temperature up to 100m below the sea-level at central equatorial Pacific is 27.5C,” said Pradhan Parthsarthy, secretary, Bihar chapter of India Meteorological Society and professor at Central University of Bihar.

Deliberating on the likely El Nino impact on the Indian subcontinent, Parthsarthy said: “The ascending air originating because of the high sea surface temperature obstructs the flow of monsoon current towards the eastern parts of India, including countries like Indonesia, Java and Sumatra. It leads to a dry spell of around 15 to 20 days in India during the monsoon.

According to my observation, there is a maximum possibility of drought-like condition in the Indian subcontinent because of El Nino effect around the months of July and August.”

In case, the El Nino leads to scanty rainfall, the kharif (monsoon) crop production in the state might be hit. Anil Jha, an expert in the state agriculture department, told The Telegraph: “The rainfall in the months of July and August (which is expected to be hit by El Nino) is extremely crucial for paddy cultivation and any skewed distribution or less rainfall during this period can badly affect its yield.”

Kharif season starts from the arrival of southwest monsoon and ends in September. Sowing of paddy seedlings in this season starts mostly from early June, followed by transplantation in early July. Paddy transplantation is feasible from beginning of July to mid-August.

The southwest monsoon, after remaining weak for two days following its sluggish onset over Kerala, gained momentum on Sunday, bringing rain to most parts of the state. “Rain occurred at most places in Kerala and at a few places in Lakshadweep,” the Meteorological Centre said in a bulletin in Thiruvananthapuram, reports PTI. Heavy rainfall, exceeding 7cm, has been predicted at isolated places in Kerala and Lakshadweep till June 10. Kottayam received the highest amount of rainfall of 7cm.