With 38 per cent deficit, Kerala in grip of worst monsoon in a century

With 38 per cent deficit, Kerala in grip of worst monsoon in a century
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Kerala received only 1,231mm of rainfall in June-Sept this year compared to the expected 1,985 mm. To avoid a shortfall, the state needs 65 mm of rain in just four days.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As the monsoon season nears its end, Kerala is on the brink of experiencing the most- deficient rainy season in 100 years. The typically reliable southwest monsoon, which usually contributes 70-80 per cent of the state’s total annual rainfall, has disappointed this year. The state has received only 1,231 mm of rainfall compared to the expected 1,985 mm during the June to September period, marking a significant 38 per cent deficit.

The last time the state witnessed such a dire monsoon season was in 1976 when it recorded a meagre 1,296 mm of rainfall for the same period. To avoid setting a dubious record, the state now needs 65 mm of rain in just four days. However, weather experts are not optimistic, giving it only a 50 per cent chance. In the recorded history of monsoon, the state received the worst southwest monsoon of 1,223 mm in 1,918. Recently, in 2016, when the state declared a drought year, the southwest monsoon season gave 1,352 mm of rainfall. “The state was expected to get an above-normal monsoon this year.

Cyclone Biparjoy and typhoons resulted in a weak monsoon at the beginning of the season in June. The delay in activation of positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) has also affected the monsoon severely,” said Rajeevan Erikkulam, a meteorologist with the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority.

While September’s improved rainfall has mitigated the deficit from an alarming -50 per cent in August, concerns loom over the emergence of El Niño. This climate phenomenon, characterised by periodic warming of sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, has the potential to further disrupt the monsoon.  A repetition of 2016 would be even more distressing for the state. “Like 2023, 2015-16 was also characterised by the influence of El Nino. The climate phenomenon impacted the northeast monsoon in 2016. There was a deficit of over 60 per cent that year,” said Rajeevan.

He said the Positive IOD is expected to counterbalance the impact of El Nino. According to him, the early weather models suggest an above-normal rainfall during the northeast monsoon season starting from October till December. India Meteorological Department (IMD) is expected to release the official forecast for the season by the end of September.

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