Pedestrians cross road during monsoon (Photographer: Santosh Verma/Bloomberg)

El Nino Threat Is Fading to India’s Critical Monsoon Season 

(Bloomberg) -- India’s southwest monsoon, which waters more than half of the country’s farmland, is likely to be normal this year as odds of an El Nino fade, Skymet Weather Services Pvt. said on Monday.

The probability of normal showers this year is more than 50 percent, Jatin Singh, managing director of the New Delhi-based private forecaster, told reporters in a preliminary forecast. The odds of excess showers or drought are limited, he added.

Rainfall between 96 percent and 104 percent of the long-term average of about 89 centimeters (35 inches) is considered normal, Singh said, adding that rain is likely to be in the lower end of the normal range.

The monsoon is critical to the farm sector as it delivers more than 70 percent of India’s annual rainfall. When there’s too much rain, floods cause landslides and wash crops away and hundreds of people die each year. When there’s too little, families go hungry and power plants go dark. India is the world’s second-biggest producer of rice and wheat, and the top grower of cotton.

The El Nino conditions were on the rise in the Pacific Ocean till the end of December, Singh said. “The temperatures are now declining and the probability of El Nino is also falling."

El Nino, which occurs when the equatorial Pacific surface warms and touches off a reaction in the atmosphere above it, often brings dry weather to parts of Asia and Australia.

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