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IMD plans district-level updates

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Aug. 6

UNDETERRED by its prediction of a country-wide 98 per cent normal monsoon for July going wide off the mark, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) now plans to make available district-level weather updates and up to seven-day advance forecasts.

Speaking to presspersons here on Friday, the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Science and Technology, Mr Kapil Sibal, admitted that the July rains, at 81 per cent of the long period average (LPA) for the month, were way below the 98 per cent level forecast by the IMD.

"The prediction for July rainfall has not been realised, though we still believe that the monsoon will turn out to be normal for the country as a whole at the end of the season (June-September)," he said.

Mr Sibal said that the cumulative departure from the LPA during the current season till August 4 was minus 10 per cent for All India, while being minus 22 per cent for North West India, minus 10 per cent for Central India, minus 9 per cent for the South peninsula and minus 2 per cent for North East India. The rains were scanty or deficient in 44 per cent of the country's 524 meteorological districts, while being normal in 40 per cent and excess in the remaining 16 per cent.

Stating that not only the IMD but even European and US agencies had got their predictions wrong for the South-West monsoon this time round, the Minister said that this does not mean giving up on making forecasts. "Not only do we need forecasts, but we also need to improve our own systems. The European or American models will not be adequate since they are based on the Northern latitudes and not on the atmospheric and wind circulation patterns prevalent in our 0-40 degree latitude conditions," he specified.

Mr Sibal said that the proposed Rs 500-crore investment plan of the IMD over the next two years, subject to the Planning Commission approval, would cover installing dense network of satellite-based rain gauge stations for online monitoring and automatic weather surface stations for adequate coverage of weather data. It would also include setting up wind profilers, a dense network of radars for complete coverage of coastal areas for cyclone monitoring.

The Government plans to develop an integrated analysis-forecast system with improved data assimilation with the use of high-density data. This is aimed at fine-tuning the model forecast and downscaling it to district level, using statistical tools and GIS (geographical information system).

Moreover, starting August 15, the Government will start making available its latest weather updates and forecasts up to seven days at the district level and at its Web site. It also plans to give farm advisories based on weather forecast at district level. IMD has introduced an integrated meteorological data reception and analysis system (IMDRAS) that enables reception of processed information even in remote areas through a personal computer.

"While this data currently reaches up to state level, we will ensure that this analysed data reaches the district level from August 15. The capacity of IMD Web site is being upgraded to make this additional information available for public access," said Mr Sibal.

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