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Monsoon entering withdrawal phase

Vinson Kurian

Thiruvananthapuram , Sept. 16

DEVELOPMENT of a weak El Nino condition in the tropical Pacific is apparently forcing the Indian summer monsoon onto the `retreat' mode.

"Yes, monsoon will soon start withdrawing from northwest India," says Dr M. Rajeevan, Director-Forecasting, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Pune.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US had last month declared that El Nino was back but this time around in a weaker state. The El Nino conditions developing in the tropical Pacific were expected to last through early 2005. International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI) at Columbia University also supported the NOAA findings.

El Nino is associated with changes in sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and can have significant impacts on weather around the world. El Nino episodes occur about every four to five years and can last up to 12 to 18 months.

Global Weather Services (GWS) of the US also went on record saying the southwest monsoon in India had entered the retreat phase. The IMD has now confirmed the development.

Prevailing circulation patterns suggest a transition from the monsoon season, Dr Rajeevan told Business Line. Flip-flop plottings on the weather chart brought out by the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) of the IMD depict an indifferent monsoon preparing to back off from the Northwest.

"Now, we can look forward to rains only over East and South India. That too, in a progressively tapering mode," Dr Rajeevan added.

According to the 24-hour forecast put out by the IMD on Thursday, the deep depression over Gangetic West Bengal had weakened into a well-marked low-pressure area, which was expected to move in a west-northwest direction. Under its influence, rain or thundershowers have been forecast over West Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, East Rajasthan, Konkan and Goa, among other regions.

The GWS has, however, forecast more monsoon rains through the weekend over the eastern and southern parts of the country. Since Tuesday, showers and a few heavy thunderstorms have been reported in these regions as well as Bangladesh, it said. Among places experiencing a wet weather were Gwalior, Jagdalpur and Jessore. Bangalore recorded an isolated 8.5 cm of rain. Topsoil moisture continued to be depleted by hot and dry weather in the Northwest, which is set to prevail during coming days as well.

Answering a separate question, Dr Rajeevan suspected global warming could be the immediate trigger for violent storm seasons in the Western Pacific as well as the Atlantic this year.

The increased storm activity has been noticed right since the 1990s and can best be attributed to a multi-decadal effect on climate, he added.

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