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Capturing the Rains


For the first time since 2018, India has registered a shortfall in the monsoon. The country received 82 cm of rainfall from June to September this year, nearly 6% below the normal 89 cm. From April onwards, signs pointed to a subdued monsoon, with the looming presence of El Niño.



  • Water Resources
  • Important Geophysical Phenomena

Mains Question:

What are the reasons for shortfall in Indian Monsoons recently? What can be done to withstand this erratic nature of monsoons? (15 marks, 250 words).

Status of monsoons in India:

  • The cyclical warming in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean typically leads to reduced rainfall in India, especially in the northwest.
  • In contrast, the Indian monsoon between 2019 and 2022 was notably affected by the cooling La Niña, associated with above-normal rainfall.
  • Consequently, expectations for a normal monsoon in 2023 were restrained.

State-wise status of monsoon in India:

  • Despite these predictions, this year’s monsoon was far from ordinary. Approximately 9% of the country experienced excess rainfall, while 18% faced deficient rainfall. The rest received normal rainfall.
  • August, the second-most crucial monsoon month, recorded a third less than its normal rainfall.
  • Unexpectedly, several states in north India, anticipating minimal rainfall, were inundated due to multiple episodes of record rainfall.
  • In July, heavy rainfall in Chandigarh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh led to floods and landslides, causing cities to grapple with serious flooding for several days.
  • Cloudbursts were reported in Himachal Pradesh in August, attributed to so-called western disturbances, normally not expected to play a significant role in the monsoon. These occurrences underscore the wide-ranging impacts of anthropogenic warming.
  • Conversely, drought-like conditions prevailed in Maharashtra, with extreme water stress reported in Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Karnataka.
  • In Karnataka, tensions escalated with neighboring Tamil Nadu over sharing water from the Cauvery River.

Prediction of monsoons:

  • The India Meteorological Department forecasts a ‘normal’ northeast monsoon from October to December, with ‘normal to above-normal rainfall’ in large parts of northwest India and south peninsular India.
  • Signs indicate increased rains in various parts of south India.


The spatial and temporal variability of the monsoon emphasizes the necessity of investing in more resilient infrastructure capable of withstanding the increasingly unpredictable aspects of the global climate. Recent trends highlight the importance of enhancing forecast models that can better predict significant weather changes a week or two in advance, directing more resources and expertise towards this endeavor.

December 2023