| MUMBAI, Sept 14
MUMBAI, Sept 14 Monsoon rains in India, the
world's second-biggest producer of rice and sugar, could fall
below average this year, in the absence of the La Nina weather
pattern, two senior officials at the state-run weather
department said on Wednesday.
Rainfall in September could be up to 15 percent less than
average, said two officials from the India Meteorological
Department (IMD), who could not be identified because they are
not authorized to speak to the media.
This year's below average rains, after two straight years of
drought, could cut yields of summer-sown crops that are
currently ripening for harvesting and also hit the planting of
winter-sown crops like wheat and chickpeas.
Last month, the IMD forecast above average monsoon rains,
crucial for watering nearly half of the country's farmlands that
lack irrigation facilities.
The IMD had forecast surplus rains in August and September,
largely because of the La Nina, a weather phenomenon that cools
the waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America
that typically causes stronger monsoons across Asia, said one of
the senior IMD officials.
"La Nina didn't develop. Instead we got lower rains in the
second half," the official said.
Since the start of the monsoon season on June 1, rains have
been 5 percent below average.
"Our forecast of a surplus rainfall has gone wrong," D. S.
Pai, IMD's head of the long range forecast, confirmed to
Reuters. "We will receive less than 100 percent rainfall this
India's weather office defines average, or normal, rainfall
as between 96 percent and 104 percent of a 50-year average of 89
cm for the entire four-month season. The IMD in August forecast
monsoon rains at 106 percent or above normal.
Last week, a U.S. government weather forecaster said La
Nina conditions were no longer likely to develop during the
Northern Hemisphere fall and winter 2016/17. In June, the agency
said there was a 75 percent chance La Nina would develop.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Christian