A few manual rain gauges in two locations – that was all Chennai's meteorologists had, all this while, to measure the volume of rainfall received in the city. Officials of the Meteorology Department themselves have observed that residents in many parts of the city might not relate to the amount of rainfall recorded in Nungambakkam or Meenambakkam considering the sheer size of the city and variation of rainfall in different localities.
All this is set to change as the city got its first automatic rain gauge at Sathyabama University on Thursday. With this facility and nine similar ones that will be set up in two weeks, the department would now be able to collect accurate data and also improve weather forecasting services.
The other rain gauges will be installed on the premises of educational and research institutions and government offices in Taramani, Guindy, Padur, Kolapakkam, Poonamallee, Chembarampakkam, Puzhal, Avadi and Kattupakkam.
Inaugurating the facility worth Rs.3 lakh in the presence of University chancellor Jeppiaar, Y.E.A. Raj, Deputy Director General of Meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, said a denser network of automatic rain gauges would help understand the weather conditions better.
The facilities would have sensors to measure rainfall, humidity and temperature that collect data every hour. People would be able to access the information within one or two hours in www.imdaws.com. The department is also in the process of setting up 65 more automatic rain gauges across the State as part of the first phase of modernisation project. Work has started on 10 such projects in other districts. An automatic weather station would have sensors to measure six parameters, including wind direction, speed and pressure. After Ennore, Nungambakkam and Madhavaram, Meenambakkam too will soon have such a station. The facility, installed with the support of Indian Space Research Organisation, is now being operated on a trial mode.
The locality, which houses Chennai Airport, would also soon get a Doppler weather radar for aviation weather surveillance. Officials said there were hitches in acquiring land in Pallavaram for the past two years due to problems in identifying ownership of space. R. Suresh, Director (in-charge), Aerodrome Meteorological Services, said “We now depend on the data from the radar on Rajaji Salai. Ideally, we need such a facility within five or six km radius to monitor wind shear and other parameters for a comprehensive report for airlines operation.”