India monsoon rains reach Kerala after delay of a week

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Crop-nourishing monsoon rains reached Kerala state on India’s southern tip on June 8, the country’s weather office said on Thursday.

“Southwest Monsoon has set in over Kerala today, the 8th June, 2023, against the normal date of 1st June,” the state-run India Meteorological Department said in a statement.

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The IMD confirms the monsoon has begun after taking into account rainfall measured at weather stations in the southern state of Kerala and westerly wind speeds.

Conditions are favorable for the monsoon to further advance into the central Arabian Sea and some parts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka states, the IMD said.

On Wednesday, weather office data showed that India received 57 percent lower rainfall than average in the first week of June, after the monsoon’s onset over its southern coast was delayed by the formation of a cyclone.

In the week to June 7, India received 9.9 mm rainfall against the normal 23.1 mm, according to the state-run India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The monsoon, the lifeblood of the country’s $3 trillion economy, delivers nearly 70 percent of the rain India needs to water farms and recharge reservoirs and aquifers.

Rains usually lash the southern state of Kerala around June 1 and cover the whole country by mid-July. This year, the IMD was expecting the arrival of monsoon rains over the state’s coast on June 4.

The formation of a very severe cyclonic storm Biparjoy in the Arabian Sea has been affecting the onset of monsoon, said a senior IMD official, who declined to be named as he is not authorized to talk to media.

“Conditions are becoming favorable for monsoon onset over Kerala,” he said.

Nearly half of India’s farmland, without any irrigation cover, depends on the annual June-September rains to grow several crops. The monsoon’s late start could delay the planting of rice, cotton, corn, soybean, and sugar cane, traders said.

India’s weather office has forecast below average rains for June, with the monsoon expected to pick up later.

However, for the entire four-month season, the IMD has forecast an average amount of rain despite the formation of a possible El Nino weather phenomenon.

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