Monday, June 29, 2009
The pre-monsoon thunder showers in north and north-west India, which included many parts of UP, brought much needed relief to the people from the hot and humid weather conditions prevailing for the last three months. The good news is that the relief is here to stay for a while as Met department said that there will be no change in the weather on Monday. It further predicted that monsoon will also arrive in a couple of days in east UP.
The weather turnaround started from Saturday evening when strong gusts of winds brought clouds and thunder showers in many parts of the state. It continued on Sunday and weather remained pleasant. East UP in particular received good rains all day. Shravasti recorded 88 mm rains, Bahraich 55 mm, Bikapur in Faizabad 73 mm, Gorkahpur 6 mm and Sultanpur 1.6 mm.
Although it did not rain much in Lucknow, the weather remained pleasant all day due to moisture-laden cool winds. Some parts of Lucknow did record a drizzle but rest were dry. Similar reports were also received from Allahabad, Varanasi and Kanpur. However, two persons were killed in Ballia due to lightning.
Sir, it is raining in Mumbai and also in few others parts of Maharashtra," Dr A B Mazumdar attends his first telephone call of the day at his Pune office and gets excited. "Good news! And yes, check for rains in Marathwada region as well and keep me informed," Mazumdar tells his colleague over the phone and gets back to work.
A veteran weather forecaster, Mazumdar has been living in Pune since 1985 and is a workaholic. Weather forecasting is a tough job, he admits, but believes it involves a lot of routine technical work which is done by experts from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). "Predicting a development from a natural system is always tough. The forecast is made with the help of certain systems and models. But it remains a forecast and hence, can go wrong sometimes," states Mazumdar.
A product of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Mazumdar studied Master of Science in Geo-Physics and later completed his doctorate in the same subject to join the IMD. "Being a weatherman brings along a lot of responsibility as well as a feeling of increased expectations. I love to work and spend a lot of time at the office," he says.
Before settling in Pune, Mazumdar held various key positions at the IMD in cities like Patna, Kolkata and Nagpur. As the monsoon approaches, he gets more involved in work and keeps visiting his office at odd hours and even on holidays.
In March, the IMD had predicted a normal rainfall across India during the June-September season. But the projections seem to have gone wrong and not surprisingly, weathermen like him are being blamed for it. "Forecasts can go wrong sometimes," he says. And then adds, "That is why it is a forecast. If all our forecasts came true then we would be called 'fortune-tellers' and not weathermen," he says with a smile.
When asked if he experiences a burden of expectations of a billion Indians when it comes to monsoon projection, Mazumdar says "No". Instead, he says, "We depend on our methods, models and systems. The projections are given with the help of these systems and hence, there are chances of those going wrong. But, we do our job sincerely."
The IMD announces four major projections every year on the progress of the monsoon, with the first one coming out in April. A number of weather forecast centres calculate the estimate and the final announcement is made from New Delhi. Among these, the projection made from the Pune office is considered most crucial and accurate. And hence, Mazumdar and his team play an important role in this process.
This year though, they seem to have had a tough time. The monsoon has not progressed as per expectations. What is more worrying is a report published by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), which talks about adverse impact of "El Nino" on India's monsoon. But Mazumdar does not agree with this report. "El Nino generally develops close to the sea coast of Peru in South America and it hardly has anything to do with the monsoon. It does bring about certain impact on global weather cycles but not in every case," he claims.
Although the monsoon has been delayed, its progress gives him a sense of relief and brings him joy. "The monsoon is progressing fast and we should expect good rains over next two months," he states. "Forget about the threats of El Nino and the month of August will see 101 per cent rains against last year's rainfall in August," he smiles. He ends up on a note of caution though, "Remember, this is just a forecast!"
It took a good fortnight beyond the customary start date for the first outburst of rain to strike Mumbai on the west coast of India. The outburst happened mostly on Saturday with Santa Cruz picking up 127 mm. Other falls during the week raised the tally to about 180 mm--still far below the nearly 59 cm that normal falls during the month of June.
Elsewhere along the west coast, rainfall since early week has been about 240 mm at Ratnagiri (Maharashtra), and about 200 mm at Panaji (Goa).
Whether or not any of these amounts seem high, they are decidedly moderate for the region at this time of year. Indeed, these amounts are nearly comparable to the normal rainfall for several days during the latter half of June.
Away from the west coast of India, rainfall this week has tended to be deficient over the Subcontinent with wide areas having none to speak of. True, there have been spot downpours over the interior and the north east.
--The tropical depression that landed over the state of Gujarat at midweek was instigator of hit-or-miss downpours into the state of Sindh, Pakistan. It even rained meaningfully into the city of Karachi, as citizens have related to this writer.
In short, the update is to call for 93 percent of long-period average rainfall for India as a whole (June to September). The original forecast was for 96 percent of average. The key difference is accounted for by the dearth in June rainfall to date. Forecast is also for full rainfall (101 percent) during August, for a relatively strong finish.
It would seem that the shift from La Nina to neutral ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) is the key variable in play here. The IMD also site the Indian Ocean Dipole as an oceanic index having at least the possibility of weighing upon the seasonal rain outcome.
--Looking forward, Subcontinent rainfall will continue to be "patchy" during the coming week with small areas of generous rainfall interspersed with wide areas of sparing to absent rainfall. Some return of weak subtropical Westerlies to the northern Subcontinent is forecast--this is a negative factor for the SW Monsoon and its rains.
One indicator for the week thereafter: the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) is forecast to become more favorable for rising convective currents and the rains they tend to breed.
MJO predicts a good WET phase from 3-Jul-09 to almost the end of July. Hope this wet phase brings good rains from monsoon.
Latest GFS run shows more rains for western coast from 30-Jun and HEAVY rains for Central and North-eastern India. For Chennai though nothing as of today. If the monsoon current becomes stronger during 1st week of July, Chennai will get evening moderate thunder showers, and that too will be scattered. One good thing is now that the monsoon air current is in full pace, chennai will experience a slightly lowered day temperature (around 37 deg celsius) and slightly high humidity.