Deficit rainfall strikes Kerala and Northeast India, despite monsoon 2024 arriving 12 days ago

Following heavy pre-monsoon rains from cyclone Remal, early monsoon showers fail to meet expectations

Despite an early arrival, the southwest monsoon has brought disappointment to Kerala and several northeastern states of India. Twelve days after the Monsoon 2024 rains reached the region, these areas are experiencing a significant rainfall deficit.

In recent years, Kerala has experienced less than normal rainfall at the start of the monsoon season, whereas Northeast India has been experiencing a long-term drying trend that continues this season.

The rainfall deficit in Northeast India follows heavy rains from cyclone Remal in the last week of May, which caused flooding in states such as Manipur and Assam. Previously, the region had experienced a dry spell, with heatwaves affecting Assam on a couple of days in May.

The monsoon rains arrived in Kerala on May 30 and advanced into Northeast India on the same day. This was two days earlier than the usual date of June 1 and was possibly aided by the movement of cyclone Remal in the Bay of Bengal.

Between June 1 and June 9, Kerala received 22 per cent less rainfall than normal, according to data from India Meteorological Department (IMD). The state had received good pre-monsoon rainfall, especially towards the end of May due to a persistent cyclonic circulation over the region.

Of the total 14 districts in the state, nine have experienced deficient rainfall (20 per cent to 59 per cent less than normal) or large deficient rainfall (60 per cent to 99 per cent less than normal). The highest deficit of 53 per cent was in Kollam district and Alapuzha suffered the second-highest deficit of 45 per cent.

Four districts of the state have received normal rains (19 per cent less than normal to 19 per cent more than normal), while Thrissur district has received marginal excess rains of 23 per cent more than normal.

Between March 1 and May 24, Kerala received 27 per cent more rainfall than normal. The state, along with the rest of the south Indian states, had suffered from below-normal rainfall in June 2023 as well. The region as a whole had received its lowest June rainfall in 122 years in 2023.

The monsoon, however, has fared well in other south Indian states such as Tamil Nadu with 224 per cent excess rainfall between June 1 and June 9. Andhra Pradesh experienced 196 per cent excess rains in the same period and Telangana received 100 per cent more rains than normal.

In Northeast India, Manipur received 83 per cent less rainfall than normal between June 1 and June 9. The state suffered severe floods at the end of May due to rainfall from the remnants of cyclone Remal. Five people were killed by the flooding and around 127,000 people were affected, according to media reports.

The situation was not much better for Manipur in the pre-monsoon season either. Between March 1 and May 24, the state suffered a 36 per cent deficit in rainfall. 

The current situation in Mizoram and Nagaland is also dire, with 57 per cent and 51 per cent deficits in rainfall, respectively between June 1 and June 9. Out of 27 districts in Assam, 10 were also under a rainfall deficit in the same period.

There was not much rainfall in these states during the pre-monsoon season either, with deficits of 56 per cent, 25 per cent and 46 per cent in Mizoram, Nagaland and Assam, respectively.

The IMD predicted a lean monsoon season for the northeastern states, which seems to be playing out from the beginning of the season.

Meanwhile, monsoon winds have covered almost all of southern India, with the exception of northern Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, according to IMD data. It has also covered large parts of Maharashtra, including the city of Mumbai.

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