The India Meteorological Department on Monday retained its forecast of above-normal rainfall during the southwest monsoon this year.

Last month, the weather agency said that the country as a whole is expected to get 106% of the long period average rainfall. The measure is the mean rainfall during the four-month monsoon season over the last 50 years. The southwest monsoon season generally begins in June and starts to retreat by September.

This is the first time in nearly a decade that the India Meteorological Department has predicted above normal rainfall in its long-range forecast for the season.

On Monday, the India Meteorological Department released its second phase of the monsoon forecast and reiterated that the country is still likely to get 106% of the long period average rainfall.

The central and southern peninsular regions of the country are likely to get above-normal rainfall while normal rainfall is predicted in northwest India and below normal over the northeast regions, it said.

While above-normal rainfall is 106% of the long period average, normal rainfall is the range between 92% to 108% of the measure. Rainfall under 94% is classified as below normal.

The weather agency also predicted above-normal rainfall over the Monsoon Core Zone, which comprises most of the rainfed agriculture areas of the country, during the season.

The India Meteorological Department said: “Normal rainfall is most likely over the country as a whole during June 2024.”

It also added that above-normal temperatures are expected over most parts of India, except for some areas of the southern peninsular that may have below-normal temperatures. “During June, above-normal heatwave days are likely over most parts of northwest India and adjoining areas of central India,” the weather agency said.

It said that the strong El Niño conditions seen in the beginning of the year had weakened rapidly and is transitioning towards El Niño-Southern Oscillation neutral conditions. La Niña conditions are likely to develop by the later part of the season, the weather agency added.

The El Niño phenomenon involves the warming of ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific. It typically occurs every few years and has been linked to crop damage, fires and flash floods. La Niña is the periodic cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. This phenomenon is known to help rainfall activity.

El Niño and La Niña are two phases of the El Niño Southern Oscillation phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Neutral Indian Ocean Dipole conditions are prevailing over the Indian Ocean at present, the weather agency said, adding that global forecasts indicated positive conditions are likely to develop over the monsoon season.

The Indian Ocean Dipole is the difference in the sea surface temperatures between the western parts of the Indian Ocean near Africa and the eastern parts of the ocean near Indonesia. Positive conditions are good for rainfall over India.

On May 19, the India Meteorological Department announced the onset of the southwest monsoon over southern Bay of Bengal, the Nicobar Islands and the South Andaman Sea.