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    Early Monsoon Onset Forecast by India Expert

    By Story by AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Jim Andrews.
    April 29, 2010, 6:59:28 AM EDT

    An early start to the key summer monsoon rains of India, the world's second biggest country by population, is being forecast by one of the country's top forecasters.

    P.V. Joseph, of the Cochin University of Science and Technology, has stated that the rain-giving monsoon may begin seven to ten days earlier than usual along the Kerala coast of southwestern Indian. The professor emeritus is a former direct of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

    Joseph based his forecast on earlier-than-normal peaking of sea-surface temperatures off eastern India. Another factor cited was the relatively early northward spread of equatorial cloudiness into south India.

    On Friday, the IMD had released its long-awaited forecast of the all-important monsoon, or summer, rainfall. The forecast has called for near-normal rainfall.

    The IMD have said that last year's deficient summer rain, the lowest in 37 years, was unlikely to recur.

    The outlook is based in part on supercomputer numerical modeling, together with the consideration that one bad rain year is rarely followed by another.

    Since 1901, about 20 years have rated as drought years; 17 of these were followed by at least near-normal rainfall.


    Forecasts for a weakening of El Nino in favor of neutral sea temperature conditions on the tropical Pacific Ocean are another factor considered in the making of the rainfall outlook.

    The seasonal, or monsoon, rain normally spreads over the Subcontinent beginning from the south and east during early June, then reaches its fullest extent in the month of July.

    For all intents and purposes, the rain-giving summer monsoon comes to an end by the last of September.

    The seasonal rains are vital to most of the nearly 1,500 million people sharing the Subcontinent. Specifically, output of foodstuffs and fiber needed to support the population hinge upon the three-month summer monsoon.

    In 2009, India, which normally yields the world's second highest output of sugar--while also being its top consumer--had to import a record-high 5 million metric tons from the major commodity markets. These imports are said to have been behind a spike in raw sugar prices which peaked in February.

    The 2009 drought also cut into oilseeds output.

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