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Explained: Why monsoon is playing spoilsport in Punjab, Haryana

While the monsoon usually hits the region in the fourth week of June, this year it came around June 13. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) considers the four months starting in June as the monsoon period in the region.

Despite getting its first monsoon showers a fortnight before normal, this year Punjab and Haryana are witnessing up to 43 per cent deficit rain in the peak of the monsoon period. Along with the high temperatures, this dry spell has also started impacting the Kharif crops.

So why has the monsoon gone dry this year? The Indian Express explains:

How has the monsoon been so far in Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh?

While the monsoon usually hits the region in the fourth week of June, this year it came around June 13. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) considers the four months starting in June as the monsoon period in the region. While between June 1 and 13, the three states all recorded above normal rainfall, the region recorded recoded slightly below normal rainfall in the remaining weeks. However, with rain still staying away, in July the overall deficiency rose to 40 per cent in Punjab, 33 per cent in Haryana and 43 per cent in Chandigarh.

Just for the month on June, this deficiency was much higher at 81.3 per cent in Punjab, 77.7 per cent in Haryana and 90.9 per cent in Chandigarh.

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What happened after the early monsoon?

The monsoon was early in the region after a gap of 13 years. “Usually the rain takes a week-long break in monsoon season due to unfavourable air pressure,” said Dr Prabhjot Kaur Sidhu, head of the Department for Climate Change and Agricultural Meteorology at the Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) in Ludhiana. With the break extending well over a couple of weeks now, the region has witnessed a heat wave with temperatures 5 to 7 degrees above normal.

Why has the monsoon break been so extended?

Dr Sidhu said after hitting Kerala, the monsoon clouds usually take 25 to 30 days to reach the Northern region. “But this year it reached the region in 10 to 12 days, which is half the time,” Dr Sidhu said, adding: “Moreover Monsoon in the region comes through two branches, one from the Arabian Sea and the other from Bay of Bengal. It travels in a shape of the alphabet ‘C’ and covers the region from two sides. This time due to the fast progress from one branch of the monsoon got disturbed and led to an unusual longer break”.

“The pulsatory movement of the monsoon was very high in the beginning and then it came down very fast and turned weak ,” said Dr Prabhjot. She said the high humidity levels over Punjab and Haryana because of the stagnant water in the paddy fields during the transplanting could have also weakened the monsoon clouds.

How important is the rain for the region at the moment?

Punjab and Haryana sow water guzzling rice crop on 43 lakh hectare (1.06 crores acres) in June. And the first two months of the crop are quite crucial when transplanting consumes huge quantities of water. The field in which transplantation takes place has to be tilled with standing water and continuously irrigated for two months to ensure a proper crop. With more than 80 per cent of this area receiving deficit rainfall, the paddy crop could be impacted.

What is the forecast now?

The IMD Chandigarh office informed that rainfall activity is likely to increase from July 11 over Punjab and from July 10 over Haryana. Accordingly, the southwest monsoon is likely to advance over some more parts of Punjab and Haryana during this period. Rainfall, isolated light rain and thundershowers are likely over both states and Chandigarh during July 10 to 12.

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