Special Correspondent

Observations will be at strategic locations in Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal

Storms over Gangetic West Bengal, Bangladesh and North East India are most destructiveBesides farmers, aviation industry too will benefit

KOLKATA: The pilot project of a national coordinated programme of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, to develop an early warning system for thunderstorms in the eastern States, is to be launched in April.

Observations one of the most intensive in the country will be undertaken at various strategic locations in Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Popularly known as "kalbaisakhi," the thunderstorms over the Gangetic West Bengal, Bangladesh and North East India are the most destructive to be recorded anywhere in the sub-continent.

In India more than 70 per cent of the tornadoes are associated with "Kalbaisakhi" and on an average 28 such storms occur during the pre-monsoon months of April and May.

"Severe Thunderstorm Observation and Regional Modelling (STORM), is part of the ongoing Weather and Climate Research Programs (WCRP) of the DST. The pilot campaign will help in gaining experience for the implementation of the main programme planned for three years ending 2009," Shishir K. Dube, Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, and member of the 15-member expert committee for preparing the Science Plan for STORM, told The Hindu here on Tuesday.

The implementation plan for STORM 2007-2009 will be prepared after the completion of the pilot phase.

"Between 2007 and 2009 we expect to have detailed data of between 50 to 60 `kalbaisakhis' that will get us to understand better the structure, dynamics and thermo-dynamics of such thunderstorms. We also hope to get a better idea of the physics of the formation and movement of thunderstorms all of which could lead to the development of an effective forecasting warning system," Prof. Dube said.

STORM's main objective is "to reduce the loss of life and property by warning people of an impending thunderstorm between five to six hours before its arrival," he added.

Apart from farmers who would be immensely benefited, the warnings could well serve the aviation industry.

The strong winds are a real threat to aviation; the aviation hazards are high during these thunderstorms, according to Prof. Dube.

"The programme will be implemented by involving scientists and experts of 30 institutions and research and development organisations. It also involves the Indian Meteorological Department, the Indian Air Force, Navy and the Army," he said.