Monsoon Forecast India 2015 – SkyMet vs IMD Round 2

Is there more to what meets the Eye with SkyMet’s Monsoon Forecast India 2015? Is Sky Met Weather Services a modern day Abhimanyu or Nero? A COMK Analysis

Background : Ever since IMD’s second long range forecast there has been a lot of debates everywhere on who is right and who is not.  Sky Met is betting everything on Positive IOD evolving to compensate the influence of El Nino.  IMD on the other hand believes Positive IOD not to develop in time to save from ENSO Influence.

If one goes through the entire sequence of how things evolved.  Sky Met issued their monsoon forecast in the month of April when there was still not enough clarity on the evolution of El Nino, to quote Jatin Singh, CEO, Skymet, “The El Niño is likely to continue into the summer months and taper down there after. It is not likely to have an adverse impact on Monsoon performance”. Sky Met Monsoon Forecast. During this report they had indicated there was not clear indication of Positive IOD developing.

Subsequently El Nino has evolved strongly, Sky Met continues to stick to their original forecast of Normal or 102% of LPA rains during Southwest Monsoon.  But the change over the last couple of weeks especially after the 2nd IMD Forecast appeared is Sky Met is now betting on Positive IOD developing to counter the effects of El Nino.

In trying to discredit IMD, there is an important pattern that is evolving, Sky Met being a private weather forecaster is going all around drumming up their Monsoon forecast and enjoying a lot of Eyeballs & TRPs’, while IMD governed by Protocol does not react.

Is SkyMet twisting facts to suit their case?

How close SkyMet are to truth when they quote past history of Positive IOD negating El Nino and is 2015 comparable to any of the historical references being shown.

Through this article SkyMet Chief Meteorologist’s take Mr. Sharma while accepting the influence of El Nino expects IOD to bail us this year. He quotes 1967, 1977, 1997, 2006 as the years when Positive IOD provided for normal or better monsoon.  So what were the conditions during these years and what was the performance of Monsoon. As the table clearly shows SkyMet is using wrong years as historical reference to support their cause.  SkyMet_1Will 2015 be another 1997 a year SkyMet quotes as Positive IOD influencing Southwest Monsoon?

The only year which supports their cause is 1997. Unfortunately we think it is an exceptional year that is unlikely to repeat. Even if assuming 1997 can repeat the conditions are not the same simply because while 1997 saw Positive IOD develop by May and became very strong by June.  So what is the probability of a strong Positive IOD developing in time for Southwest Monsoon.

IOD is currently at 0.42 which is the threshold of Positive IOD, most models expect IOD to be moderate during the month of June & subsequently fade away.  Only ECMWF expects IOD to stay in moderate strength during the period of Southwest Monsoon. And going by Ensemble forecasts also a majority of them expects IOD to be around neutral range or marginally positive and not a strong Positive IOD as SkyMet possibly expects. So it is unlikely 1997 will repeat in 2015


Is Positive IOD an overrated factor during El Nino Years?

Now finally let us see some of the past years when IOD was positive and the performance of Southwest Monsoon during those years.  As the table clearly indicates not always Positive IOD has been a saviour of Southwest Monsoon, the years when El Nino has been moderate / strong Positive IOD has failed to influence heavily.  One year saw a Devolving El Nino shore up Positive IOD influence.  SkyMet_3

 So How good has been SkyMet’s Original Monsoon Forecast 2015 So far? The forecast can be accessed here 

  1. The Monsoon onset is expected to be early (around the 27th of May) and fairly strong. – Both have not happened yet, Monsoon Onset was late by 5 days and is a weak onset as we speak.
  2. June: 107% of LPA (LPA = 164 mm) • 64% chance of normal • 29% chance of above normal • 7% chance of below normal.

It appears June might not see 107% of LPA as we speak considering the weak onset so far and possibly the Arabian Sea Disturbance moving in a more N/NNW direction reducing its influence on Coastal Peninsular India.

So is SkyMet a modern day Abhimanyu or Nero? I leave it to your inference.