a train is on the side of a mountain road

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THE SOUTHWEST monsoon withdrew from Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday, with the state recording a deficient rainfall this season and the driest September in at least the last 17 years, weather officials said.

During the monsoon season (June 1 till September 30), Himachal recorded 567.2 mm rainfall, which is 26 per cent below the long period average (LPA (50 years)) value of 763.5 mm, said a season summary report by IMD’s meteorological centre at Shimla. Last year, the monsoon rainfall was 10 per cent below normal and in 2018, it was 12 per cent above normal, it said. The total seasonal rainfall this year was the least since 2014, when a 37 per cent deficit was recorded.

The southwest monsoon had arrived in the state on June 24 this year, a day ahead of its normal date of arrival, and withdrew five days after its normal date of withdrawal. The wind has been withdrawing several days late for at least the last seven years, and withdrew on October 11 last year.

Centre director Manmohan Singh said that only three of twelve districts – Bilaspur, Kullu and Una – received ‘normal’ rainfall (within the range of -19 per cent to +19 per cent) during the season. Eight of the remaining nine districts received ‘deficient’ rainfall (-19 per cent to -59 per cent) and the district of Lahaul & Spiti recorded scanty rainfall (-60 per cent or above).

Lahaul-Spiti received 105.5 mm rain during these four months, or 73 per cent below normal. The district lies in the cold dry zone of the Himalaya, a region generally blocked from the monsoons by lofty ranges.

Kangra district, whose headquarters Dharamshala is among the wettest parts of the country, recorded the highest rainfall of 1,219 mm this season, followed by Bilaspur (957 mm), Sirmaur (854 mm), Hamirpur (819 mm) and Mandi (816 mm). In terms of departure from normal, only two districts – Bilaspur (+9 per cent) and Kullu (+5 per cent) — recorded an above-normal precipitation.

A dry September

The state received a mere 30 mm of rain in two wet spells during the month of September, which was 77 per cent below normal, and the driest September since at least 2004. The highest rainfall recorded during the month in the past 17 years was 270 mm (93 per cent above normal) in 2018, while the second lowest was 38.5 mm in 2004.

All districts received deficient or scanty rainfall this September with Solan and Kinnaur recording the highest deficit of 93 per cent. The weather station at Keylong in Lahaul recorded the lowest temperature of 3.3 degree Celcius this month, while the highest temperature of 38.6 degree Celcius was recorded at Una.