Monsoon Delayed Across India, Brings Deadly Flooding to Sri Lanka

By Eric Leister, Meteorologist
June 07, 2014; 4:06 AM
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Play video The above video details the weather across Asia.

The yearly advance of the southwest monsoon is vital to both people and agriculture across India and rest of the Indian subcontinent.

The normal onset of the southwest monsoon occurs during the second half of May across Myanmar before reaching southern India at the beginning of June.

This year the monsoon was actually several days ahead of schedule reaching Myanmar, but it has stalled over the Bay of Bengal during the past week, finally reaching Sri Lanka in the first week of June.

While the rain is welcomed by many, heavy rain caused flooding and mudslides in Sri Lanka as the monsoon arrived killing at least 22 people. Another 2,500 people were forced to flee their homes according to the Associated Press.

The above image shows the advance of the southwest monsoon, marked by the blue line, along with normal onset dates across India, courtesy of the India Meteorological Department.

The monsoon arrived almost a week late across far southern India, officially reaching Kerala and Tamil Nadu on June 6.

Beneficial rains are forecast to increase during the second week of June across the southern states of India but remain at least a week behind schedule as it advances northward.

The heaviest rains over the next week are expected to be focused from the western Ghats to the west coast during this time. Scattered rains are expected across the southeast.

With an El Niño expected to build during the second half of the year, rainfall across central and northern India could be impacted greatly.

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As a result of the impending El Niño, the northward advance of the southwest monsoon is forecast to be delayed for most of central and northern India allowing temperatures to soar well above normal for much of the month of June.

Several long stretches of temperatures over 42 C (108 F) are possible in New Delhi and the surrounding region.

Long-range forecasts are for below-normal monsoon rainfall in these areas, stretching into neighboring Pakistan. Concerns continue to rise that a drought will develop across northwest India and Pakistan as a result of prolonged dry, hot weather followed by a weak monsoon.

India is a large supplier of rice and cotton globally, and these crops could suffer greatly as a result of the impending hot, dry conditions. According to Accuweather.com Commodity Weather Expert Jason Nicholls, "Both crop yields and quality are likely to be impacted by drought later this summer in northwest India and Pakistan."

An Indian farmer walks with his cow through a dried paddy field at Mayong village about 40 km (25 miles) east of Gauhati, Assam, India, Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Rising temperatures coupled with scanty rainfall is badly affecting farmers in many parts of this north-eastern state. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)

Farther south, the monsoon should arrive before the full impact of the oncoming El Niño occurs. The best chance for a near-normal monsoon will be in the southwest.

With rainfall expected to be below normal for much of India during this monsoon season, any rainfall from tropical cyclones would be increasingly important.

The Bay of Bengal will likely produce several tropical cyclones during the summer months as a near-normal season is anticipated. Although flooding is always a threat from landfalling tropical cyclones, this will be offset by the positives of rainfall during a stretch of otherwise below-normal rainfall.

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