The normal onset date for monsoon over Kerala is June 1, which also marks the start of the four-month rainfall season. (Photographer: Ami Vitale/Bloomberg News)

Monsoon Delayed By 5 Days, To Hit Kerala Coast On June 6: IMD

The June-September southwest monsoon, which irrigates over half of India, will hit the Kerala coast on June 6, five days after its normal onset date, the India Meteorological Department said in its second monsoon forecast for 2019 on Wednesday.

"This year, the statistical model forecast suggests that the monsoon onset over Kerala is likely to be slightly delayed. The southwest monsoon onset is likely to set over Kerala on June 6 with a model error of plus or minus four days," the IMD said. The normal onset date for monsoon over Kerala is June 1, which also marks the start of the four-month rainfall season.

"Conditions are becoming favourable for advance of southwest monsoon over the southern part of Andaman Sea, Nicobar Islands and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal during May 18-19," the IMD said.

On Tuesday, private weather agency Skymet said the monsoon would hit the Kerala coast on June 4, with an error margin of two days.

If the monsoon arrives late, it will be third such instance since 2014 when it arrived on June 5, followed by June 6 in 2015 and June 8 in 2016.

The delay in the arrival of monsoon may not necessarily have an impact on the overall rainfall. Last year, it had hit Kerala on May 29, three days before the normal onset date. Yet, the country received 'below-normal' rainfall.

Similarly, in 2017, the monsoon arrived in Kerala on May 30, but the overall rainfall was 95 percent of the long period average, which falls under the below normal category.

In its first monsoon forecast on April 15, IMD had said that India is likely to receive near-normal rainfall at 96 percent of the long-period average (+/-5 percent) and while El Nino conditions do persist, they're likely to weaken as the season progresses.

The monsoon is considered ‘normal’ if the average rainfall is between 96 and 104 percent of the long-period average. Anything less than 90 percent is ‘deficient’, while 90-96 percent is ‘below normal’. Between 104 to 110 is ‘above normal’ and beyond 110 is ‘excess’.

A good monsoon, which waters more than half of India’s farmland, is crucial to boost consumption in the Indian economy. Summer rainfall and its distribution largely determine crop output and is among the most important factors in guiding food inflation.