Weather forecasting to get tech upgrade

| | New Delhi
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Weather forecasting to get tech upgrade

Wednesday, 10 July 2024 | Archana Jyoti | New Delhi

In the backdrop of widespread social media jokes and public skepticism over recent weather predictions particularly for Delhi-NCR by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Centre has announced major upgrades in weather forecasting infrastructure across key Indian cities, including Delhi NCR.

As per plans, three dopplers radars and 180 automatic weather forecasting systems have been proposed for the national Capital and its adjoining regions while Mumbai will get four more In Mumbai, to take the tally to 6. Also, Kolkata is set to receive additional radar soon.

Waking up to the urgent need to have accurate equipment, the Government has plans on deploying advanced technologies, including additional Automatic Weather Stations (AWS), radars, and a high-performance Computing (HPC) System with 20 petaflops capacity.

These enhancements aim to align Delhi’s forecasting capabilities with global standards, ultimately improving public safety and economic resilience against unexpected weather changes.

“These upgrades are not limited to metro cities but will also benefit cities with populations exceeding 10 lakh. The overarching goal is to bolster weather forecasting capabilities in tier towns and remote areas nationwide,” Union Science and Technology Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said after holding a special high-level meeting convened to address public concerns amid the ongoing monsoon season across India.

He acknowledged the public dissatisfaction with the accuracy of recent forecasts, marked by several missed yellow and orange alerts. In fact failure in accurate alert has caught the citizens many times unaware, leaving them in the uncertainty as they suffered in severe heatwaves conditions on the one hand and flood like situation on the other.

The IMD is continuously improving weather forecast systems to help the common man and share the benefits of world-class weather forecasting technology, said the Minister even as he acknowledged that the recent monsoon season in Delhi has been marked by significant public dissatisfaction and skepticism over the accuracy of weather forecasts by the IMD.

According to experts,  there are only 34 radars present in the country as of now. The number has increased by just 6 in the last 5 years. In contrast, the United States of America (USA) does weather prediction with almost 200 doppler radars.

A media report quoted JP Sharma from Skymet saying that, “The Numerical Weather Model depends on how much data you have given and what the quality of data is. If you provide the wrong information, then it will get rejected.

Hence, the quality of data is quite important. We are adding networks but the speed we are adding is very slow and hence we are not getting the required amount of quality data for a pinpointed prediction.” Accurate weather predictions play a vital role in saving lives by providing early warnings of storms, heatwaves, and other natural disasters. Farmers rely on forecasts for agricultural planning, while energy sector operators use them to manage heating, cooling, and renewable energy production efficiently. Aviation and maritime sectors also depend on accurate forecasts for safe operations.

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