Hyderabad: After a normal monsoon in 2016, Skymet Weather Services, a private forecasting service, says the El Niño could influence the 2017 monsoon.
Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department Dr K.J. Ramesh, however, said it was too early to make predictions for the 2017 monsoon. The IMD does so only in the first week of April.
El Niño refers to a not-completely-understood irregular series of climactic changes that affect the equatorial Pacific region. It is characterised by unusually warm weather off northern Peru and Ecuador in South America. India experiences poor rainfall in the El Niño years.
In an official release on Monday, Skymet said that El Niño has started showing signs of activity. An El Niño is followed by La Niña that is invariably related to good monsoon rains.
Back in December 2016, all weather models were suggesting that weak La Niña conditions would continue during early 2017 and by April or May, neutral conditions may develop.
Going by this prediction, India in 2017 would have witnessed either a normal monsoon or above normal rains. However, weather models took a U-turn and by mid-January, most of them have started indicating the resurfacing of El Niño.
Weather office says it’s too early
After a normal monsoon in 2016, Skymet Weather Services, a private forecasting service, says the El Niño factor could influence the 2017 monsoon. As per the latest models, the sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are likely to increase in a span of six months.
India got a brief respite in 2016 as the El Niño index started declining rapidly since March 2016 and reached the negative value of –0.1 in May. The Pacific Ocean had also cooled down considerably. Thus, the southwest monsoon of 2016 ended with normal rainfall at 97 per cent of long period average from June 1 to September 30.
The consensus is that the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) will remain neutral till the fall season in the southern hemisphere. Two prominent weather models have predicting that the El Niño index was most likely to exceed the threshold neutral value of 0.5°C by June. Another model was predicting the same, but fell short of the neutral value.
Another factor that influences the southwest monsoon is the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD). According to meteorologists, a positive IOD is linked to a good monsoon.
As of now, weather models are suggesting that the IOD is likely to remain positive this year. IMD director-general Dr K.J. Ramesh said that monsoon predictions at this stage were premature.
“El Nino alone cannot decide the impact of the monsoon,” he said. “The monsoon depends on various other factors like snowfall and temperatures across global seas. We have to assess the weather variations and conditions from January 2017 to end of March to come to a preliminary prediction on the coming monsoon. We will bring out our predictions in the first week of April this year.”...