Regional Meteorological Centre gears up to launch mobile weather alert services in July

In just a few months, city residents may be able to plan their day or even the next few hours, keeping the weather in mind.

To meet a growing demand for regular weather updates, the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC), Chennai, is gearing up to launch mobile weather alert services.

The alerts will detail forecasts and other weather observations through text messages.

Earlier this year, the Indian Meteorological Department launched ‘India Weather’, a mobile application (app) for smartphones and tablets, which is available in four cities — Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

The RMC’s service however, will also cater to non-smartphone users.

The centre’s deputy director general of meteorology Y.E.A Raj, said, on the sidelines of a meeting held on Saturday to mark World Meteorological Day that the department was working on modalities to provide the service.

“We are deciding the kind of weather observation to be provided along with the forecast; whether it will be a free or a paid service and if we should tie up with a service provider. We may roll out the service in July,” he said.

During the meeting, Mr. Raj highlighted the other recent developments in the department, including the web-enabled nowcasting service, which forecasts the city’s weather for the next three hours and also details a district-specific rainfall forecast for the next 24 hours.

He also mentioned the centre’s work in the setting up of automatic weather stations and rain gauges across the State. Thunderstorm warnings are also provided for every city at a national-level on the website, he said.

On this year’s theme for the day, ‘watching the weather to protect life and property’, he said deaths due to the tropical cyclone Nilam had been limited to less than 20 and damages too, had been contained significantly, owing to the near-accurate tracking and forecasting system.

Citing the intergovernmental panel on climate change’s report that has projected an average increase of two degree Celsius by the end of century, R.Suresh, director of the aerodrome meteorological office, said that measures to mitigate the impact of carbon dioxide must be taken.

V. Geethalakshmi, professor, Agroclimate Research Centre, Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, highlighted measures being taken to provide user-specific weather information.

“We have installed 224 automatic weather stations so far and plan to install 161 facilities in the next three months. We need to identify new indicators and increase the accuracy of predictions to help farmers decide on favourable crop varieties to minimise damages,” she said.

She also stressed the necessity for multidisciplinary research projects to help farmers adopt climate-change resilient agriculture. Weather predictions also have a role in pest and disease forewarning, she said.

The National Institute of Ocean Technology, which assists the meteorological department in tracking cyclones and predicting daily weather, was also represented at the meeting. Its director, M.A. Atmanand said that the institute is now implementing real time meteorological and oceanographic data collection in the Bay of Bengal. Steps have been taken to genssserate freshwater from waste heat at a thermal power plant in Ennore, he said.

The programme also saw college students being given a tour around the meteorological department’s weather units, including in Meenambakkam.

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