Home » As IMD issues orange alert, city’s weather radar remains inoperative | Mumbai news

As IMD issues orange alert, city’s weather radar remains inoperative | Mumbai news

As IMD issues orange alert, city’s weather radar remains inoperative | Mumbai news


Mumbai Despite the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) ‘orange’ alert, indicating a strong chance of ‘heavy to very heavy rain’ at isolated places on Monday, the S-band doppler weather radar (DWR) in Colaba has remained inoperative for the last four days.

This is not the first time the DWR, which was installed in the city in 2010 for weather surveillance of up to 400km from the coastline, has remained defunct. Last year too, the radar was inoperative on June 9, when the southwest monsoon made an early entry into Mumbai.

On December 4, 2017, when Cyclone Ockhi brushed past the Mumbai coast, the radar was not functional. The DWR, which is instrumental in forecasting weather conditions, also didn’t work on multiple days during extreme rainfall events in June and July 2019, and also on June 1, 2020, about 48 hours before cyclone Nisarga made landfall in Maharashtra.

A spokesperson with the IMD’s regional forecasting centre in Mumbai said that the doppler radar at Colaba is down for routine maintenance.

Meanwhile, the newly-commissioned C-band radar in Veravalli near Jogeshwari has been producing images at an interval of about an hour, which experts said is insufficient from a disaster management point of view.

“Real-time monitoring of clouds and rainfall over Mumbai-MMR during the monsoon season is an extremely important part of disaster management. A doppler weather radar gives perfect information about clouds, their movement, and rainfall on a real-time basis. The dense network of rain gauges and public CCTVs in Mumbai supplements this surveillance process. It cannot be an alternative to a fully-working radar, which produces images at an interval of 10-15 minutes during active monsoon,” said Akshay Deoras, independent meteorologist and PhD candidate at the University of Reading, UK.

MS Reddy, former vice-chairperson of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), said there was a pressing need to have at least two properly working DWRs in the city. “Mumbai as a city is becoming increasingly prone to urban flooding, especially because of recurring high-intensity short-duration rainfall events. DWRs give us a lead time of three to six hours and tell us the temporal and spatial variation of rainfall for different areas. These are crucial details, especially for warning commuters or moving people from low-lying areas,” said Reddy.

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Meanwhile, although the official date for the onset of southwest monsoon was June 11, the city has seen patches of rainfall over the last few days. The first low-visibility downpours occurred in isolated locations early Sunday. So far this month, Mumbai has seen 115.3 mm of rain, indicating a deficit of 167.3 mm for the month so far.

However, heavy downpours are expected in the city on Monday. “Citizens are advised to take precautions while stepping out on Monday. The city may get around 130 mm of rainfall over the next two or three days, which is not alarming by Mumbai standards, but it could cause waterlogging,” said the IMD spokesperson.

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