Amarnath pilgrimage: Mobile radar for weather forecast

Amarnath pilgrimage: Mobile radar for weather forecast

This the first of the ten weather radar – and the only mobile one – being installed by the India Meteorological Department in the western Himalayas for better weather prediction. PTI file photo

The hardships faced by the Amarnath pilgrims on account of harsh weather is set to lessen a bit from next week with the installation of a mobile weather radar which will accurately inform the people on the road on what kind of weather awaits them.

This the first of the ten weather radar – and the only mobile one – being installed by the India Meteorological Department in the western Himalayas for better weather prediction.

Transported from Srinagar, the radar-on-a-truck would be placed at a site called Gumri near Sonmarg in Baltal valley in Jammu and Kashmir.

There will be two trucks carrying the radome and control unit. The meteorological station at Srinagar will use the inputs to come out with more location-specific forecast.

The annual journey to the holy cave at an altitude of 12,756 ft happens in July-August under the supervision of the armed forces.

“From now on, the mobile X-band radar will be used during the Amarnath pilgrimage each year. It will give more location-specific information on rainfall, wind and the possibilities of strong winds or squall. Once the yatra is over, the mobile radar will be kept at the Banihal top for the rest of the year,” K J Ramesh, IMD director general told DH.

Other nine sites where such radars would be located are Leh, Uri or Gulmarg (depending on the availability of the land) and Jammu in J&K; Mussoorie, Pithoragarh and Auli near Joshimath in Uttarakhand; and Dalhousie, Shimla and Bhuntar near Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

“All of them will be put in place before March 2020. Nearly 45 crores are being spent on the project and a Hyderabad-based company (Astra Microwave) is making the radar” he said.

Currently, IMD relies on six automated weather stations to prepare the forecast for Amarnath pilgrims. The forecast for the Char Dham yatra (Kedar Nath, Badri Nath, Gangotri and Yamunotri) relies on the inputs from nearly 140 automated weather stations set up by the Uttarakhand government in the hill state.

With ten hill radars set to be operational within a few months, the met agency is in talks with a subsidiary of Power grid Corporation to ride piggyback on the PSU's optical fibre line to remotely operate these radars from Delhi.