India's monsoon rains will likely start in 48 hours after a severe storm delayed the weather event vital for the economy.
Conditions are becoming favorable for the onset of monsoon over Kerala, the India Meteorological Department said Wednesday. The agency has signaled in recent days that storm Biparjoy, a severe cyclone in the Arabian Sea, would drive away clouds and moisture from the state, holding up the arrival of rains.
The latest forecast is likely to bring relief for millions of farmers across India who depend on the rain to water their fields. The season, which runs from June to September each year, contributes about 75% of the country's annual rainfall and irrigates over half of its agricultural land. A late start could delay needed precipitation in parts of the country and affect the timely sowing of crops.
The weather office said severe cyclone Biparjoy will continue to intensify into a very severe storm and head northward in the next 12 hours. It's moving near to the country's west coast where major ports and refineries are located.
The storm currently lies 990 kilometers (615 miles) southwest of Mumbai and 1,360 kilometers south of Karachi in Pakistan, according to the India weather office. Wind speeds may climb to 145 to 155 kilometers an hour by Friday and could even reach 170 kilometers an hour, equivalent to a Category 2 storm.
State-run explorer Oil & Natural Gas Corp. evacuated some people from its drill ship Sagar Vijay on the Arabian Sea as part of its cyclone preparedness, a company spokesman said Wednesday. Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd. and Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd. spokespersons said there's no impact on refinery operations but added that they're taking precautionary measures.