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Know How Doppler Radar Has Reduced Casualties By Nature's Fury In Odisha


26 April 2018

Bikash Das


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Bhubaneswar: As Odisha accounts for 20 per cent of total lightning deaths in India followed by Jharkhand (15%), West Bengal (15%), Bihar (less than 10%), Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, North Eastern States, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and others, installation of Doppler Radar has come as boon to prevent further loss of precious lives by issuing early warnings both for lightning.

While 297 persons have so far died of lightning in 2017, the lightning death toll in 2016-17 was 398, 402 people succumbed to this calamity 2015-16. The average death toll in lightning is about 350 in Odisha which is much more than a killer disease like Dengue or Swine Flu.

Talking to OMMCOM NEWS, Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre Director Sarat Chandra Sahu informed, “Lightning effect here in Odisha is severe between March and May. It is because of very high cloud and the sound of thunder is more. The lightning flash is very dangerous then. But the death rate is more in monsoon months of July and August. The cause behind it is due to wet soil. Also the there is small cloud formation and the sound of thunder is minimal. The main reason is that cloud remains at low height. And, that lightning takes place during 12.30 to 3.30 pm or 4 pm.”

He said, “Mainly the farmers who are busy in the fields at that time are being tragetted and adversely affected. The lightning during late afternoon or evening hours causes no harm as most of the people are indoors and take rest in close quarters. One can be safe while at home or close cars or buses or other vehicles where the doors and windows should be shut.”

“Even though death toll is there during March and June due to frequency, but the amount is very low. July and August record high death toll,” claimed he. The Met Centre Director also revealed, “There is system to track this lightning in our weather forecast by letting loose thermodynamic balloon, but we’re unable to track the exact timing of the lightning. But Doppler Radar is able to detect it as cumulonimbus cloud generates lightning and thunder. Doppler Radar aptly detects the different colour code of cumulonimbus cloud and could know the area of formation and its effect on the specific area. Its real time picture comes to us at a regular interval of 10-15 minutes.”

“This can be detected blockwise, but needs GIS-based Odisha’s mapping superimposed. The timing of the lightning warnings for the specific blocks can also be made,” he claimed.

He also informed, “Odisha coastal belt is densely populated. Hence, death toll due to lightning strike in July and August is more. Starting from Balasore and other coastal belt as well the coastal adjoining districts like Angul and Dhenkanal have been recording a number of deaths in lightning. The way heatwave awareness campaign is being launched widespread, lightning awareness can also be made. If the people notice black cloud during 12.30-3.30 pm, they should soon be back home or indoors. Because lightning or thunder effect is once at a place in a day in general. Rare case is different. Never rest under single tree or tower.”

The Met scientist also explained, “If temperature increases in the atmosphere or as in the break monsoon weather where no rains but sunny day, cloud formation takes place at around 12.30 pm.”

On the death toll, he informed, “On an average, about 400 people are killed in lightning. The data of last few years shows that the death toll is 375-400. IITM Pune has the facility. Also it is being tried to install that system. By doing so, the specific area of the lightning can be detected and warned before an hour or two about the flash. Doppler Radar will add thunder cloud develop data. The forecast will be more helpful.”

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Sarat Chandra Sahu, Director, MET, Bhubaneswar