‘Tech made hourly weather updates possible’

Tech made hourly weather updates possible, says S Balachandran, deputy director-general of meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, to DT Next in an interaction about the 4 radars in Tamil Nadu functioning 24 hours that helped to give hourly predictions of seasonal changes accurately and the link between climate change and weather patterns
S Balachandran, deputy director-general of meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai
S Balachandran, deputy director-general of meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, ChennaiHemanathan M

CHENNAI: In 2022, there were intense spells in the city in May after the onset of monsoon. But unlike the previous years, during the northeast monsoon, the impact was much lesser. It also helped that the civic body authorities tackled the situation during and after heavy rains. Speaking along those lines, S Balachandran also offers insights into gauging weather conditions via variations in temperatures.

Excerpts follow…

 How do we see the difference between climate change and weather change conditions in Tamil Nadu?

A statistics of 30 years is stated as climate change. For instance, the summer in May is likely to be hot, but the variation in temperature during summer is meant as weather condition. There are environmental changes, global warming, and atmospheric changes occurring across the world. It resulted in changes in the pressure pattern, wind and rainfall pattern.

 How has the technology developed in the last 30-40 years? Has it decreased the rate of fatalities?

There has been a lot of development in technology used to predict weather patterns. TN has 4 radars that work 24 hours to predict weather conditions. Weather models have increased and they provide accurate forecasts. In the last decade, there is much advancement in the equipment used to predict the weather. Now, we can provide hourly and monthly forecasts daily. In addition, we can also predict the impact caused by depression or cyclones in the State. There are 3D forecasts available for the public to understand the system over the sea better. Also, taluka-based forecast is also available.

 How was the coordination with the State government during the cyclone?

Basically, it’s science, technology and management which help to reduce the deaths during the natural calamities. And continued monitoring, and special bulletin were given to the state government, and based on their advisory the concerned department took steps. It had helped to prevent a large number of fatalities during the landfall of cyclone Mandous.

 How is the public participation when there’s change in weather conditions? Has any initiative been taken to gather data from the general public?

In 2021, a mobile application – Public Observatory was launched for public participation, where they can upload the current weather conditions. It helped the weather department to create a database. In the app, you can add the present weather status. For example, if we’re travelling and there’s sudden rainfall, they can upload it on the app. There are several categories available such as thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, dust, trees uprooted, dry weather, etc. People can also upload photos of the weather too. Last year, 348 people registered the weather status through this app. During the monsoon season, between October and December, 152 people uploaded the same.

 How was the rainfall pattern in 2022 for Tamil Nadu?

The State received more rainfall during the southwest monsoon compared to the northeast monsoon last year. Also, the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) played a major role during the SW monsoon, and even the depressions were more. At least 12 depressions and two cyclones (Chithran and Mandous) were formed. In 2021, however, 4 cyclones were formed and brought intense spells for TN. During the NE monsoon, the intense spell was dry for north coastal regions. The southern coastal districts including Thoothukudi, Ramanathapuram, and Delta districts received less than normal rainfall. At least 7 districts received excess rainfall, of which Erode recorded the highest. And 25 districts witnessed average spells during the NE monsoon, and 8 districts had below-normal rainfall.

 When can we expect northeast monsoon to stop in TN?

Within the next couple of days, we’d officially declare that NE monsoon has stopped. At present, dry weather is prevailing in the State for the past few days.

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