Monday, June 9, 2014

India monsoon advances as heatwave bakes north

Space Daily via AFP: India's monsoon, dubbed an "economic lifeline", advanced along the southern coast Saturday after arriving nearly a week late as a heatwave baked the north, causing blackouts in the power-starved country. As one of the world's top producers of rice, wheat and sugar, India relies heavily on the southwest monsoon which sweeps the subcontinent from June to September to water its crops.

"The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has declared the onset of the monsoon," the weather department said in a website notice Saturday. The monsoon is being watched closely amid fears weak rains could further slow an economy grappling with its worst downturn since 1985 and pose a major challenge to the newly elected right-wing government of Premier Narendra Modi.

The meteorological department has predicted below average rains with a 23 percent chance of a "deficient monsoon". Indians in southern Kerala state rejoiced as downpours eased scorching temperatures, but northern India was gripped by a heatwave with the mercury climbing as high as 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit)....

A 2009 rain in Kerala, shot by Dhruvaraj S, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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