Regional Meteorological Centre plans to deliver forecasts by text messages

The recent monsoon and cyclone saw a renewed interest in weather updates and Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai plans to capitalise on it. The centre plans to launch a mobile phone service to disseminate forecasts and other information through text messages.

The department’s website, which was recently upgraded with new services, was accessed by many who wanted to know latest developments as cyclone Nilam hit the Tamil Nadu coastline on Wednesday evening.

Officials of the meteorological department said that several factors, including tie-up with a service provider and whether it would be a free or paid service, have to be studied. “We are also planning to upload publications on meteorological subjects for people to better understand weather in our region,” said an official.

The department, which recently added nowcasting and district-level rainfall forecast services on its website, is planning to take over maintenance of the website from National Informatics Centre by next year. This would help track the daily traffic.

“We were able to assess the public access through the number of registrations to services such as cyclone e-atlas,” said the official.

Cyclone e-atlas, an online facility, has been regularly accessed since it was introduced in January. On an average, nearly 500 persons use the service every month. On Wednesday, 613 persons had logged on to the website to check the crossing of the cyclone Nilam near the Tamil Nadu coast. The electronic atlas presents the tracks of depressions and cyclones that formed over the north Indian Ocean since 1891.

However, the toll free weather helpline, 18001801717, has not received much patronage. In October, about 1,170 persons had used the interactive voice response service in Tamil language from across the country. The service in many languages was recently handed over to a centralised service provider.

Meanwhile, Friday remained relatively hot with city’s maximum temperature rising to nearly 34 degree Celsius, four degrees above normal as there was no cloud cover. Residents may have a warm weekend with the day temperature expected to be around 33 degree Celsius and not much rain.

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