Monsoon hits Kerala a week early, farmers rejoice (Lead)

May 23rd, 2009 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Thiruvananthapuram, May 23 (IANS) The The eagerly awaited southwest monsoon hit Kerala Saturday, a week ahead of its normal date, bringing cheer to farmers in the state.
The onset of the monsoon was confirmed after widespread rainfall over south Kerala for the last four days, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The depression currently lying over east-central Bay of Bengal is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm and move in a northerly direction towards West Bengal and adjoining Bangladesh coasts during the next 72 hours, the IMD said Saturday evening.

The monsoon is crucial for the kharif crop and Kerala’s farmers rejoiced over the early arrival of rains. The normal monsoon arrival date in Kerala is June 1.

Monsoon rains are key for cultivation of kharif crops which account for nearly 60 percent of India’s agricultural output.

Earlier this month, the IMD had predicted that the monsoon would hit Kerala May 26. Last year, the monsoon hit the state May 28.

From Kerala, the monsoon travels upwards to the central Indian plains and is expected to cover most of the country by June-end.

The weather office forecast that the southwest monsoon is likely to further advance over some more parts of central and north Bay of Bengal, northeastern states and Gangetic West Bengal by Monday evening.

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