Monsoon Reaches India; Below Average Rains Forecast

By Tom Yulsman | June 10, 2014 8:59 am

An animation of images from NASA’s Terra satellite shows the onset of India’s monsoon season. The first, acquired on May 12, 2014, shows the Indian subcontinent almost cloud-free. In the second, captured on June 9th, storms systems are affecting the southern part of the country. (Source: NASA)

As a vicious heatwave gripped much of India last week, causing temperatures to soar to 47 degrees C (116 F) or more in places, and prompting riots in protest of power outages, literally billions of people on the subcontinent awaited the arrival of the annual southwest monsoon.

It was late.

On average, the rains come to India’s state of Kerala on June 1. This year, they arrived this past Friday, June 6th.

The animation above, consisting of images from NASA’s Terra satellite, offers a before and after look at the event. The first image was acquired on May 12th. It shows the entire Indian subcontinent almost free of clouds. Terra captured the second image yesterday, June 9th. Significant storminess is now seen affecting much of the southern part of the country.

The southwest monsoon occurs as intense heating of the land during the warmest part of the year on the Indian subcontinent causes air to rise. This draws moist air from the southwest toward land. As that air rises and cools, clouds form and drop copious quantities of rainfall. The monsoon typically lasts until September.

On Monday, India’s Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh said the monsoon was likely to bring below-average rainfall this year, raising fears that grain yields would be lower than normal and thereby raising food prices, according to Reuters.

Of particular concern this year is the El Niño climatic phenomenon, which is likely to begin later in the summer. That could greatly reduce monsoon rainfall across central and northern India.

  • Uncle Al

    India’s population growth rate is no less than 1.3%/year or 16.5 million people/year. If ten million East Indians Officially starve to death given a late monsoon this year…it is all social advocacy lies. Hunger is due to weather, famine is due to politics.

    The US 2013 fermented 4.7 billion bushels of corn (40% of production) into 13+ billion gallons of fuel ethanol. That is 470 bushels or 26,000 lbs of corn for every otherwise starved East Indian, 72 lbs of corn/person-day for a year. Ran it down their throats as geese and duck are force-fed for making liver pâté. Perhaps that will plug the whining.

    Next stop: East Indian complaints about flooding. Ship the excess water in trade for corn to California,

    • Buddy199

      The Daily Al

      • Uncle Al

        Those who can must never do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach teachers. Those who can’t teach teachers manage teachers. Those who can’t manage teachers manage programs. Those who can’t manage programs dictate policy. Those who cannot dictate policy carry guns.

        Mediocrity is a a vice of the doomed. Support evolution – shoot back. All evil requires is that good men do nothing.

    • Tom Yulsman

      Mr. Al, or whatever your name really is: For the record, and so others will know why: I am now banning you from commenting at ImaGeo. Your comments about using corn to make ethanol are certainly reasonable. But then you committed verbal violence in your comments about ramming corn down the throats of people who might go without food because of a less than voluminous Indian monsoon.

      You’ve been warned about this kind of thing multiple times. And now I’ve simply had enough. You can take your poisonous bile somewhere else. It is not welcomed here.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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