IMD to start predicting thunderstorm and lightning

Lighting is the biggest cause of death among all the natural calamities in India, killing more than 2500 people in 2014 and 2015, according to the National Crime Records Control Bureau. DH file photo

Come April, the India Meteorological Department would start issuing a forecast for thunderstorm and lightning in an effort to reduce the death count from the two weather events that kill hundreds of Indians each year.

“The thunderstorm and lightning forecast will start from April 2019 for which we have installed 48 lightning sensors. A mobile application named Damini for lightning prediction has been developed to disseminate the information,” Union Science Minister Harsh Vardhan said here on Monday.

Explains M Rajeevan, secretary, Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, “It will be a two-stage forecast. We will forecast the probability of thunderstorm over the next two days. Once the event occurs, we will give a forecast on how the thunderstorm will behave in the next six hours and what are the areas where the lightning can strike.

Lighting is the biggest cause of death among all the natural calamities in India, killing more than 2500 people in 2014 and 2015, according to the National Crime Records Control Bureau.

The met agency came under severe criticism last year after more than 200 people were killed by the deadly pre-monsoon storms in the northern plains.

There were three episodes of killer storms in last May, out of which the first one on May 2 was the deadliest as a violent storm barreled through eastern Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh, eliminating nearly 130 people and injuring another 400. More than 1,800 houses were damaged and 800 cattle were killed.

Subsequently, scientists at the IMD, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune and National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting joined hands to come up with the forecasting system that will alert the administration and individuals.

Vardhan said IMD would also add 200 additional rain gauges and four small X-band radars in Mumbai to improve its prediction accuracy for rainfall in the Maharashtra capital that is deluged every year in the monsoon. The instrumentation is to be done in the next two years.

The Maximum City currently has 25 rain gauges and one big radar at Colaba, which has been found inadequate to improve the prediction accuracy.

The met agency plans to improve its network of data-capture instruments adding nearly 500 automatic weather stations (100 only located in Kerala that was wrecked by rainfall and floods last year), 10 new X-band radars in the western Himalayan states and 11 C-band radars in the plains and islands.

The minister on Monday launched a special weather service for Kumbh Mela at Pryagraj beginning from tomorrow. A smartphone application named Kumbh Mela weather service has been developed to disseminate the weather information to people visiting the Kumbh.

The forecast will be issued on the basis of information collected by five automatic weather stations that have been made functional in the Uttar Pradesh city.

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IMD to start predicting thunderstorm and lightning

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