Hi-tech weather alert systems being installed in JK

Hi-tech weather alert systems being installed in JK

After last year’s devastating flood in Kashmir, Union Government has sped up installation of a multi-crore program to modernize weather forecast system in Jammu and Kashmir.

Under Integrated Himalayan Meteorology Program (IHMP), Ministry of Earth Sciences has cleared setting up hi-tech weather monitoring facilities which would help get early alerts about changing weather.

“Though the program was approved sometime ago, the flood has necessitated speeding up of its implementation,” said Director Meteorological Department Sonum Lotus. The entire program is scheduled for implementation by 2018.

Under the project hi-tech facilities like Doppler weather radars, rain radars, automatic weather stations (AWSs), automatic rain gauges (ARGs), snow gauges and lightning detectors would be installed at different locations across J&K. 

J&K was hit by a devastating flood in September last year in which around 300 people were killed and around 2.40 lakh structures including residential houses were either fully or partially damaged. Prior to the deluge, a flash flood caused by cloudburst over Ladakh region resulted in death of 250 people in August 2010. The State Government was caught ill-prepared on both the occasion despite early warning by the weather department. 

“This is a massive modernization program under which hi-tech meteorological and hydrological equipments would be set up and the aim is to draw more weather related data for accuracy and early alerts,” Lotus said.

He said some specific sites have been identified for installing the facilities and work on the program was going on. 

Apart from J&K, the project, which has been formulated by Earth System Science Organization –India Meteorological Department (ESSO-IMD) for western and central Himalayas, has been simultaneously taken up in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand with total budget of around 120 crores.

Under the IHMP a Doppler Weather Radar each would be installed in Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. The radar forecasts extreme weather events like heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and helps in issuing early warnings. Analysis of data from Doppler weather radars can also determine structure of storms and their potential to cause severe weather and issue early warning accordingly.

The implementation of the project would help authorities to accurately identify, capture and monitor various weather systems affecting the state and provide better weather forecasts and warnings. 

“Improved data collection and archival will help in preparation of improved climatology for the region for the future,” an official said.

He said the objective of the IHMP was also to improve and upgrade mountain weather and climate monitoring and forecast services over the Himalayan region by establishing additional and critical state-of-the-art surface and upper air observatories for generating real time observations.