Pre-monsoon showers in Shimla and other parts of Himachal Pradesh on Monday brought much relief from the scorching heat, weather officials here said.
"Pre-monsoon showers Monday early morning brought much relief from the prolonged heat wave in various areas of Shimla, Kangra and Mandi districts," meteorological office director Manmohan Singh told IANS.
He said after the rain, the mercury plummeted sharply. Shimla recorded the maximum temperature of 26 degrees Celsius.
While Shimla saw 29.4 mm of rain, Dharamsala recorded 38.4 mm, Mandi 52.8 mm and Kalpa in Kinnaur district 1.8 mm of rain.
"The monsoon in likely to hit the state in the next 48 hours," Singh said.
The pre-monsoon rain has once again raised hopes of a good harvest of apple crop this season too.
"Rain, though delayed, at this point in time will be beneficial for the apple crop," S.P. Bhardwaj, joint director at the Solan-based Dr Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, said.
According to him, rain in the mid-hills has increased the moisture content in the soil.
Bhardwaj said the sudden rise in day temperature in the past two weeks had reduced the moisture content of the soil and threatened the apple crop.
"If the monsoon will reach the state by this week, then the apple crop loss would be minimised. Monday's pre-monsoon showers indicate that the monsoon would arrive any day now," he added.
Apple is the state's main fruit crop and is grown in nine out of 12 districts. Himachal Pradesh produced 25.5 million crates of apples in 2007-08, though the maximum output - of 28.6 million crates - was recorded in 2006-07.
The economy of the hill state is highly dependent on horticulture, apart from hydroelectric power and tourism, with the annual fruit industry worth about Rs.2,000 crore.