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When lightning will strike: Air Force to share real-time information with IMD

Last year, 424 people died following lightning strikes in the country; both Odisha and Madhya Pradesh reported over 100 deaths.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune |
April 5, 2017 8:03:08 am
Lightening deaths India, IAF lightening deaths, IMD lightening deaths, IMD to work with IAF, lightening sensors, IITM India, J Ramesh, India news, Indian Express Lightening detecting sensors have been installed across the country by the IAF. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is joining hands with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) to share real-time lightning-related data. The IAF will share lightning-related information from 142 sensors, installed at various air force areas in the country, with the Met office, said K J Ramesh, director general of the IMD.

Ramesh was in the city to inaugurate a three-day-long training workshop on lightning and other extreme events, organised at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM). This step will not only help in predicting lightning incidents, it is also likely to minimise loss of human life and livestock caused by lightning, he added.

The lightning detecting sensors have been installed by the directorate of meteorology of IAF.

As many as 35 delegates from disaster management units of Rajasthan, Nagaland, Manipur, West Bengal , Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Goa will undergo training on how to act in case of a warning about lighting.

Speaking to The Indian Express on the sidelines of the workshop, Ramesh said, “Since the data will belong to the IAF, it cannot be accessed freely. However, software customisation and other related procedures for data procurement is underway and soon, the IMD will have data at its disposal.”

Last year, 424 people died following lightning strikes in the country; both Odisha and Madhya Pradesh reported over 100 deaths.

Though the Met office does not issue a lightning warning, there is a network of 20 sensors tracking lighting strikes under the Lightning Location Network (LLN) operational in Maharashtra. The network is equipped to track lightning one hour prior to its actual occurrence. “Our aim is to provide lightning forecast at least 24 hours in advance. This will be possible as more related information will be pooled in for weather prediction models,” said the IMD chief.

Considering the high casualty rates, the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has decided to expand the LLN to north-eastern states, one of the most lightning-prone regions in the country.

Elaborating on the ministry’s plans, IITM director Ravi Nanjundiah said, “After realising that lightning is one of the severe extreme events affecting life and livestock, the ministry will install lighting sensors in the northeastern parts of the country, where lightning events are reported over 80 days in a year.”

Urbanisation has been one of the main reasons for such high casualty rates, as several skyscrapers are being constructed in cities and towns. “It is the need of the hour to isolate these buildings and equip them with proper lightning arrester mechanism, right from the time of their construction,” said an expert.

The ministry has sanctioned Rs 15 crore for installing 30 lighting detecting sensors that will be placed in the north-eastern regions and at the foothills of the Himalayas.

Hailing the move by the IAF, former Air Force chief P V Naik said, “As lightning is a powerful event, which has the potential to damage the equipment of an aircraft, flying during such times becomes very difficult. It is a good move to use this data for the purpose of scientific research.”

No threat to monsoon until July: IMD chief

K J Ramesh, director general of the India Meteorology Department, has said the initial monsoon months will not be affected by El Nino. International weather agencies have been harping on the possibility of a strong El Nino that is likely to develop later in the year, coinciding with the initial monsoon period. “It will not have any effect during the evolving phase of the monsoon,” said the IMD
chief.

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