Indian monsoon rains seen just below average in 2014 - govt

NEW DELHI, April 24 Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:46am EDT

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NEW DELHI, April 24 (Reuters) - India is likely to witness below-average rainall in 2014, the government's weather office said on Thursday, if El Nino hits the four-month-long rain season.

Rainfall is expected to be 95 percent of the long-term average, with a margin for error of plus or minus 5 percent, during the June-to-September season, it said in a statement.

The Meteorological Department defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96 percent and 104 percent of a 50-year average of 89 cm for the entire season.

The first official monsoon forecast is in line with the latest outlook of the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organisation's (WMO) forum that predicted mostly below-average rains in much of South Asia including India. (Reporting by Ratnajyoti Dutta and Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

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