Ill-placed Weather Stations Mar Forecasting In Kashmir

20 June 2015
Greater Kashmir
Haroon Mirani

Srinagar: With freaky weather becoming a norm, experts have warned that weather forecasting in Kashmir is hamstrung by ill-positioned weather stations including the famed Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) and slow up-gradation of entire forecast network in the state. The valley, which is bearing the brunt of frequent weather adversities, has a warning period of only two hours in case of approaching extreme weather conditions. 'Our DWR stationed at Rambagh station has a range of 100 kms and it can track the formation of clouds, amount of precipitation and other such factors in this area,' said Sonam Lotus, director Met office. 'We can predict and warn people accurately just two hours before any weather situation hits Kashmir.' However some experts believe that the shorter forecast timing of the radar has been further shortened due to location of the radar. 'Unfortunately the radar has been located in the middle of the low lying city that has obstacles all around,' said an expert wishing not to be named. 'Second problem is that the radar has not been calibrated fully in tune with our geography. The technicians had to feed in the local variables, plus minus various factors, software had to be updated and so on, to extract full benefit from it.' Experts have been stressing on the need to get superior C band DWR which could increase the forecast timing. 'C Band DWRs with a range of 500 kms installed in various coastal states and New Delhi can predict accurately six hours in advance and it is these DWRs which are needed here with urgency,' said an expert. 'Together with more automated weather stations, skilled manpower and proper locations, can we predict accurately which district will get rain and which will be struck by hails to prepare better.' Lotus while confirming the locational disadvantage of the radar, however refuted the charge of lack of calibration. 'Yes the location is a problem with DWR, if it was at a higher location the benefits would have been more. Actually we had asked government for alternate location but we couldn't get anything and we had to install the radar at Rambagh,' said Lotus. 'Regarding calibration it is a continuous process.' Lotus said that superior C band DWR has already been approved but it will take at least two years to commission. The experts said that the weather stations around the valley also need immediate upgradation to accurately forecast the short term and long term weather. 'For example, Kupwara weather station is all around covered by trees and foliage which in no way records true picture of temperature or rainfall,' said an expert. 'Similarly persons employed at other stations need proper training to accurately record and operate machines.' As of now, Kashmir has 15 automatic, 11 manual and four part-time weather stations. Lotus agreed that the Kupwara station has locational disadvantage but put the onus on administration to grant alternate land. 'We have already met the Kupwara Deputy Commissioner and everything has been sorted out. Now we are waiting for the land from them,' said Lotus. 'The upgradation of our weather forecast system is a continuous process. We are establishing 20 more automated weather stations.'