The pre-monsoon season – March, April and May – ended with a rainfall deficiency of 25%, which is the second lowest in 65 years, according to data from the India Meteorological Department and private forecaster Skymet Weather.

The country received only 99 mm of rainfall from March 1 to May 31, The Times of India reported. According to IMD data, pre-monsoon showers had fallen below the three-digit mark only three other times – in 2012, which was the driest with 90.5 mm rainfall, in 2009, when India received 99 mm rain between March and May, and in 1954, when India recorded 93.9 mm of pre-monsoon rainfall.

“This has been the second driest pre-monsoon season in the last 65 years, with the lowest being recorded in 2012 when countrywide cumulative rainfall deficiency had mounted to 31%,” Skymet Weather said.

All the four meteorological divisions – Northwest India, Central India, East-Northeast India and South Peninsula – recorded deficit rainfall, Skymet added. While the deficit for Northwest region was 30%, that for Central India was 18%. The Northeast division received 14% less pre-monsoon rainfall, while the deficit for the South Peninsula division stood at 47%.

Skymet Weather blamed El-Nino for the deficit. It is linked to the heating of Pacific waters. “Skymet Weather would reiterate that the mere presence of El Nino is capable of corrupting monsoon, be it a weak one or a strong one,” it said.

The Drought Early Warning System said that more than 42% of the country’s area is abnormally dry, which is 6% more than 2018. Some regions may suffer from drought-like conditions.

Pre-monsoon rainfall is crucial for several regions. In states like Odisha, ploughing is done in this three-month period, while in parts of northeast India and the Western Ghats, the showers are needed for crop plantation. It helps apple plantation in the forested regions of the Himalayas.