Kerala

Kerala to source weather inputs from four private agencies

Traffic on the rain-washed Kazhakuttam-Kovalam stretch of the NH bypass at Eanchakkal in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday evening. Kerala has been receiving copious summer showers and the rainfall is likely to continue, according to IMD forecast.

Traffic on the rain-washed Kazhakuttam-Kovalam stretch of the NH bypass at Eanchakkal in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday evening. Kerala has been receiving copious summer showers and the rainfall is likely to continue, according to IMD forecast.   | Photo Credit: S. GOPAKUMAR

Terming weather inputs provided by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) inadequate, Kerala has decided to additionally source them from four private agencies during the upcoming monsoon season.

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) decided to access inputs from Skymet Weather Services, Windy, the IBM Weather Company and Earth Networks “on a nomination basis as a pilot for one year,” according to an order issued by the Disaster Management Department.

Also read: Late or early? Forecast agencies differ on monsoon’s arrival in Kerala

The government has granted the department permission to spend 10% of funds from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for the services, according to the order.

The KSDMA has pointed out that the IMD has only 15 Automated Weather Stations (AWS) in the State. The KSDMA had transferred land for establishing 73 more, and the IMD had promised to set up 15 AWS before the 2020 monsoon season. But they have not yet materialised, according to the Disaster Management Department. Moreover, “near-time data streaming is minimal to nil. Just about five AWS are providing live data in the State,’’ the Department noted.

With such an unreliable network, the State will be unable to issue localised alerts. The IMD is not issuing alerts even at a taluk level, according to the department.

In a letter dated October 6, 2018 — shortly after the devastating floods of that year — the Disaster Management Department had pointed out that the IMD was responsible for the modernisation of observation network, equipment, systems, technology and the establishment of land and ocean-based observation systems under the National Disaster Management Plan 2016.

Conveying its readiness to provide 188 10 m x 10 m parcels of land for establishing more AWS, the department in 2018 requested the IMD to provide “hyper local, village-level rainfall and temperature warnings to the State by utilising high-end ensemble nested models customised for the State and data from the proposed dense network of observatories exclusively for the State.’’

Moreover, Kerala has also been demanding the IMD to establish one more Doppler radar on the Kozhikode-Wayanad district boundary. The IMD has only one such radar in the State and the second one, operated by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram, operates only on demand, the department had pointed out in its 2018 letter.

But none of these requirements have been met to date despite the State bearing the brunt of two devastating floods, KSDMA officials said. They added that there was nothing extraordinary in the State government deciding to source inputs from private weather agencies. At least nine States were already pursuing such programmes, they said.

In its latest order, the government has also asked the KSDMA to derive a protocol for issuing warnings and alerts based on these inputs in consultation with the Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC), which has been utilising inputs from private weather services.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 10:45:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-to-source-weather-inputs-from-four-private-agencies/article31599790.ece

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