The regional features of Bay of Bengal (BOB) branch of summer monsoon (SM) are examined to identify the causes of delayed onset over Gangetic West Bengal (GWB) in the years having normal onset over Kerala coast. The normal onset over both GWB and Kerala is designated as Normal–Normal (NN) years, while delayed onset over GWB and normal onset over Kerala is termed Normal–Delayed (ND) years. The temperature gradient (TTg), winds at 850 and 150 hPa pressure levels, sea-surface temperature (SST), outgoing long wave radiation (OLR), low-level moisture convergence, instability, and rainfall rate (RR) are analyzed in this study using National Centers for Environmental Prediction and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reanalysis dataset during the period from 1981 to 2015. The result shows that TTg over BOB plays a significant role in controlling the movement of BOB branch of SM. Warm SST is observed to prevail over north BOB during NN years. The divergence at 150 hPa and convergence at 850 hPa pressure levels are found to influence the propagation of BOB branch of SM during both NN and ND years. The winds at 850 hPa level converge over BOB and GWB during NN years, whereas winds converge more over eastern BOB and Indo-Chinese peninsula during ND years. Result depicts abundance of low-level (850–1000 hPa) moisture over eastern BOB and Indo-Chinese peninsula during ND years, whereas moisture is observed to converge over north and north-eastern BOB during NN years. The RR is observed to be slightly higher during NN than ND years. However, it may not be concluded from the analysis that delayed onset over GWB will be responsible for less RR over the study region. © 2018, Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature.