Severe heatwave returns to South Asia as temperatures pass 50 degrees Celsius.
The much-anticipated summer southwesterly monsoon is making its presence felt across large areas of India.
But to date, the rain has been lighter than normal. Across the country as a whole, average rainfall for the first half of June was 46mm, 25 percent below the long-term average.
Central India has fared worst so far, with just 28mm compared with an average of 49mm.
The delayed start to the monsoon had been predicted by the Indian Meteorological Department. It had also predicted, however, an excess of rain in the 2016 monsoon of between 4 and 10 percent.
By Wednesday of last week the northern limit of the monsoon (NLM) extended from northern Karnataka in the west to central Andhra Pradesh in the east.
At this stage, we would expect the rains to have reached almost 600km further north, from Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh.
The current position of the NLM, however, puts it about one week behind schedule.
The monsoon is vital to the prosperity of India’s agricultural industry, which generates 16 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.
More than 700 million people depend on agriculture, and after poor monsoon rains in recent years, there will be a lot of people hoping that a good monsoon will help them to bring in a bumper harvest.
A by-product of the monsoon’s arrival has been a significant drop in temperatures.
The usual build-up of pre-monsoon heat has been exceptional, partly as a result of the now departed El Nino. Over the past two to three months, exceptional heat has been recorded in many parts of India, with central and northern areas experiencing temperatures close to 50C.
The heat peaked during May when Phaoldi, in the northwestern state of Rajasthan, set an all-time record of 51C.