New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: The southwest monsoon is likely to hit Kerala on June 5, a delay of four days as compared to its normal onset date, the India Meteorological Department said on Friday. The onset of monsoon over Kerala marks the commencement of the four-month long rainfall season from June to September.
According to the normal onset date, monsoon makes an arrival in Kerala on June 1.
"The onset of southwest monsoon over Kerala this year is likely to be slightly delayed as compared to normal date of onset. The monsoon onset over Kerala this year is likely to be on June 5 with a model error of plus or minus 4 days," the IMD said.
Private forecasters Skymet Weather and the Weather Company, an IBM Venture, however, differ with the IMD on the onset date, with both predicting an early arrival.
While Skymet Weather said the onset date of monsoon over Kerala is expected to be May 28 with an error margin of plus or minus two days, the Weather Company said monsoon will make an onset over Kerala on May 31.
The monsoon is likely to arrive over the Andaman and Nicobar islands by May 16, six days before its new onset date of May 22 due to a cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal.
Even last year, the monsoon had reached the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago on May 18, two days ahead of its then normal onset date of May 20. But due to its sluggish pace, it reached Kerala on June 8. It covered the entire country by July 19.
According to the IMD forecast, monsoon is likely to be normal this year.
The country receives 75 per cent of its rainfall from the southwest monsoon during June to September. It is not only crucial for farming in the country, but also for replenishing reservoirs, and more importantly to the economy which is still largely dependent on agriculture.
Northeast monsoon is another phenomenon that brings rainfall to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, parts of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh from October to December.
From this year, the IMD has also revised the dates of onset and withdrawal dates of the monsoon for several parts of the country based on the data from 1960 to 2019. The previous dates were based on the data from 1901 to 1940.
However, the onset date for monsoon over Kerala, which is June 1, remains unchanged.
In states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and parts of Uttar Pradesh, monsoon will be delayed by 3-7 days compared to the existing normal dates.
For the national capital, the new normal onset date for monsoon has been revised from June 23 to June 27 - a delay of four days. Similarly, dates have been revised for Mumbai and Kolkata from June 10 to 11, and for Chennai from June 1 to 4.
However, over extreme northwest India, the monsoon will arrive a little earlier, on July 8, as compared to the existing date of July 15. The new date for monsoon withdrawal from south India is October 15.
Tackling southwest monsoon
With the experience of having battled floods in the last two years, the Kerala government has laid out specific plans, keeping the COVID-19 situation in mind, to tackle the expected heavy rains of the coming southwest Monsoon.
The State Disaster Management Authority has instructed district administrations and the local self government institutions to get ready to deal with the monsoon this time while fighting COVID-19.
SDMA has identified and begun the process of taking over buildings other than the 27,000 for COVID-19 patients, as those affected by an emergency cannot be housed along with them, a point stressed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
SDMA has identified four types of buildings in case an evacuation is required due to floods.
"We have the experience of two worst floods in previous two years. We devised a specific plan while keeping in mind the COVID-19 situation. This is because the COVID-19 patients, or the aged and those with serious illness will have to be accommodated separately," Fahad, in charge of hazard analysis with SDMA, told PTI.
He said a high-level meeting chaired by the Chief Minister had on Thursday given directions to officials concerned to clean rivers, streams and canal paths, which is expected to be completed within a week.
The Chief Minister had quoted climate experts as having said that the state may receive heavy rains this year.
They had said that even if it is a normal monsoon, the state could receive heavy rains in August.
"While fighting the pandemic, this was another big challenge," Vijayan had said.
With the ever present COVID-19 threat, people could not be allowed to stay together if they needed to be relocated, he had said.
The monsoon last year resulted in rampant landslides across north Kerala resulting in death of over 101 people.
The state also witnessed the worst flood of the century in 2018 monsoon when at least 483 people lost their lives.
(With PTI inputs)