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AccuWeather 2019 India southwest monsoon season outlook

By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
April 22, 2019, 9:03:12 AM EDT


While deadly severe weather has been making news headlines, many may be wondering if the upcoming southwest monsoon season will bring a surplus or shortage of rainfall in India.

Showers and thunderstorms preceding the southwest monsoon deliver heat relief and rain during the typically drier spring months, as well as helping to briefly improve air quality.

However, it is the southwest monsoon season, which spans from June to September, that brings a distinct rainy season to the country, outside of southeastern India, and is essential for the region's water supply and agricultural industry.

For the season as a whole, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls anticipates near-normal rainfall across most of southern, eastern and far northern India.

The exceptions may be across the coast of Kerala and southern Karnataka, where a surplus is anticipated.

Monsoon outlook April 18


On the other hand, Nicholls anticipates drier-than-normal conditions across western and north-central India, which could spell eventual water shortages for these areas.

"The monsoon season may struggle in western Rajasthan, western Gujarat and southern Pakistan," said Nicholls. "These areas will get some rain, but the season can end with a deficit."

That is especially concerning for water shortages in western Rajasthan and Gujarat, since the 2018 southwest monsoon was drier than normal, as well.

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Nicholls anticipates this year's southwest monsoon to behave similarly to 2018 across most of India.

"There will be active and break periods," he said. "In terms of timing, the onset of the monsoon should be on time or slightly late in southern India, but then will be slow to advance to the north."

The southwest monsoon typically begins in southern India around June 1.

July and August should bring fairly typical rainfall to most of India when the monsoon is in full swing.

"There can be a swath of dryness across central India, in the vicinity of Maharashtra and Telangana, in July," Nicholls said. "Storms can bring rounds of rain to northern India this month, but the heaviest rain and greatest concerns for flooding will be along the southwest coast."

India flooding Aug 16

An elderly woman is rescued in a cooking utensil after her home was flooded in Thrissur, Kerala state, India, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. Torrential monsoon rains have disrupted air and train services in the southern Indian state of Kerala, where flooding, landslides and bridge collapses have killed dozens of people in the past week, officials said. (AP Photo/K.K.Najeeb)


Despite the long-term advantages of the monsoon, residents are faced with the hazards of severe flooding, landslides and lightning strikes each monsoon. Hundreds of people have been killed each year amid the monsoon downpours.

"Prior to the monsoon, more storms may target northwestern India in early May and prevent heat waves from being as long-lasting as in recent years," Nicholls said.

AccuWeather meteorologists will continue to monitor each of these storms for any severe thunderstorm risk.

Severe thunderstorms are being blamed for the deaths of more than 50 people across northern India from Rajasthan and Gujarat to Bihar on April 16-17, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Drier weather and building heat are expected to build across northern India this week. Temperatures in the National Capital Region (NCR) can soar to or past 40 C (104 F) by the second half of the week.

Looking ahead to late May or early June, Nicholls is also concerned for potential tropical development in the Bay of Bengal.

"While that does not guarantee a direct impact on India as any cyclone could track more toward Bangladesh or Myanmar, a strong cyclone may stall the advance of the southwest monsoon across India," said Nicholls.

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