Chennai: M. Srinivasan, senior technician with regional metrological department (RMC), hasn’t gone home since Saturday morning and he has no qualms about it. He says this is the time the meteorologists are on their toes collecting data non-stop to deliver the most accurate forecast for the benefit of the public.
A visit to the Area Cyclone Warning Centre (ACWC) at RMC is enough to understand the kind of laborious task that is at hand. The desks are sleeved with charts and computers flashing different radar and satellite images and officials jumping around feeding data constantly into the system are a scene to
Dr S.R. Ramanan, Director, ACWC, also says weather forecasting is team work and inputs are drawn from various sources before forming a consensus and there is a wide spectrum of people involved.
Though it’s a Sunday, he and his men started the day at sunrise frenziedly attending to various issues like briefing the government, coordinating with the IMD headquarters and other regional centers, studying the Doppler radar and satellite images, besides keeping a watch on international weather models.
R. Raja Mohan, assistant meteorologist, said it is challenging whenever there is a system brewing in the Bay. “On a normal day, we issue forecast four times, but when there is a threat of a cyclone or any disturbance at sea, we issue forecast six times or more. Every 15 minutes radar data has to be analysed to issue warnings to fishermen, ports, farmer bulletin, sea area bulletin, coastal bulletin. Also, all the departments concerned have been issued advisories to prepare to deal with the deluge”.
Another official G.S. Swati, scientific assistant, says attending to calls is a big challenge. There will be hundreds of calls right from chief secretary’s office to a housewife.
“We will patiently answer all the calls with equal responsibility. Often fishermen calls and request not to project the wind speeds over and above 55 kmph as they would be losing out on government subsidies, if they venture into the sea”.
Director Ramanan, who has been working with the IMD for past 35 years, said technology advancement over the years has really helped tracking weather with some conviction now. “I also laugh looking at a good weather joke and often I feature in it. Weather keeps changing every minute and our forecast today may not pan out exactly the same way tomorrow. After all, it’s nature. Especially, in a place like India which is located in a tropical region the forecast is no easy task. I am happy that public perception has changed a lot and people are more aware and knowledgeable”.
For instance on Sunday afternoon, there was a caller from Narikudi, which is in the southern Virudhunagar district. The caller was a farmer and he was asking Dr Ramanan about whether the current well-marked low pressure area (LPA) will cross the Gulf of Mannar which will bring rains in his area. “Now, a farmer is aware what is what. He can differentiate between a LPA, depression, deep depression and a cyclone. He can also tell how the system is progressing”.
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