Residents of Pune may soon receive weather warnings, in the form of an SMS or WhatsApp messages, from the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The IMD currently issues such weather warnings, or nowcast updates, for 380 cities or towns in the country.
The warnings are issued a few hours ahead of extreme local weather events such as heavy to extremely heavy rainfall, among others. This forecast helps the local administration plan measures to handle the event, reschedule activities and take other steps.
On the possibility of introducing such a service for Pune, M Rajeevan, secretary of the Ministry of Earth Science (MoES) said, “Such incidents are not common in Pune but I will work with the IMD’s Pune team and introduce nowcast warning for the city.”
While Maharashtra witnessed a particularly wet monsoon this year, Pune also saw its share of incidents such as wall collapses, overflowing nullahs and rivers, and trees getting uprooted. The flash flood and excessive rain claimed over 50 lives in Pune district and in the four months of monsoon, the city recorded over 100 per cent excess rain this year.
Sharing the ministry’s plans to step up preparedness to tackle flooding in urban areas, the MoES secretary said Mumbai will be the second city in India to get its own independent urban flood warning system.
“We have a model tested for Chennai city and a similar system will be in place for Mumbai by next monsoon. For this, a network of radars and ground-based rain gauges are being set up in Mumbai. Effectively, it will help forecast the extent of rain and its likely impact in a certain area, and thereby warn the public in advance,” explained Rajeevan.
Such warning systems will soon be introduced in other major cities such as Kolkata, Delhi and Bengaluru, he said.
MoES officials, however, said that such warning systems will be needed everywhere as cities and towns are increasingly becoming prone to frequent flooding. While putting together such a system, attaining elevation maps, drainage design and related topographical maps of the concerned city would be a major challenge, they said.
“In order to have an effective warning system, we will need all possible information about a city. We are working with many such municipal corporations and councils that do not maintain such records,” said an MoES official.