June monsoon rainfall weakest in five years

NEW DELHI Mon Jun 30, 2014 7:14pm IST

A Kashmiri farmer walks through a paddy field in Bandipora, north of Srinagar June 10, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Ismail/Files

A Kashmiri farmer walks through a paddy field in Bandipora, north of Srinagar June 10, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Danish Ismail/Files

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's monsoon rainfall was 43 percent below average in June, the weather office said on Monday, the weakest first month of the season in five years.

Rains were 34 percent above average a year earlier, as the monsoon arrived on the normal date of June 1 and covered half the country by mid-June, two days ahead of schedule.

"We expect the monsoon to recover in next three to four days as signs of revival are visible over the Bay of Bengal," said B.P. Yadav, head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre at the India Meteorological Department.

He said a deficiency in the first month does not mean that the four-month-long rainy season would be a failure.

In 1926, the monsoon recorded its worst first-month shortfall at 48 percent below average in June, but the season ended at seven percent above average, due to a late revival.

This year, the monsoon covered half of the country four days behind schedule following a late onset over the southern Kerala coast.

The progress of the monsoon towards the grain bowl belt of northwest India is late by up to ten days.

In 2009, the June-September monsoon season was the driest in 37 years with the first month posting a 47 percent below-average rainfall.

(Editing by Keiron Henderson)

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