NEW DELHI: After a dry June, monsoon has made a great start in July. Average countrywide rainfall in the first 11 days of the month has been 24% above normal, which has helped reduce the overall monsoon deficit to almost a third, from 33% at the end of June to 12%.

In what should boost sowing of kharif crops, all regions of the country, except the south, have received surplus rainfall in this 11-day period, with central India getting the maximum share. Till last week, the area under kharif crops was 27% less than the corresponding period last week, mainly on account of poor rainfall in June. The gap is expected to reduce when the figures are updated on Friday.

India Meteorological Department officials said although the monsoon is likely to go into a weak phase after July 14, some parts of the country will continue to get rains.

“The seasonal trough across north India is expected to move close to the Himalayas around July 13. As a result, rainfall over central and north India is expected to decrease thereafter. But it wouldn’t be a total break in monsoon as south India, where rains haven’t been very good so far, is expected to get some wet weather during this period,” said D Sivananda Pai, IMD’s lead monsoon forecaster.

In association with the trough’s movement, IMD has issued red alerts over the likelihood of very heavy showers at a few places in east Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Assam over the next two days.

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Pai said the weak phase may not last very long as a low pressure system is likely to form over Bay of Bengal around July 17-18. “If that happens, rains will resume in central India and parts of the north,” he said.

Private forecaster Skymet, however, has warned of a break in monsoon from July 15, after the trough moves close to the Himalayas.

In sharp contrast to its performance in June, monsoon has so far been vigorous in July. This is mainly due to a low pressure system that entered Odisha in the beginning of the month and has persisted since then, moving across much of central India before heading north towards east Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where it is currently located.

As a result, central India has a rain surplus of 42% in July, followed by east & northeast (26%) and northwest (23%). Among areas that missed out on the rain bounty have been Punjab, Haryana and Delhi in the north, the southern states (particularly Tamil Nadu) and sub-divisions in Maharashtra such as Marathwada.

The active monsoon has significantly improved water availability across all regions. The overall storage in 91 big reservoirs in the country was 22% of total capacity (5% below normal) on Thursday, up from 17% (18% below normal) last week.





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