Mumbaiites can soon expect more accurate weather forecasts.
The much-awaited Doppler radar, which has been in the offing since July 2005, is expected to finally start functioning early this week.
The radar was slated to begin functioning on Saturday but a minor technical snag held up the plan. Engineers from Bangalore-based Bharat Electronics Limited, which manufactured the radar, are flying into the city on Monday to mend the snag.
At a height of 16 metre and a range of up to 400 metre, the S-band Doppler Weather Radar installed at Navy Nagar can forecast weather patterns at a short range within six hours.
Unlike satellites that take up to 15 to 30 minutes to relay real-time data on an approaching turbulent thunderstorm or cyclone, the remote sensing Doppler device can update such information every five minutes.
“We will be able to make predictions faster because the radar will be able to provide quick measurements of rainfall intensity and wind speed,” said RV Sharma, deputy director general, western region, India meterological department.
A Doppler radar emits microwaves that monitor moving weather systems and help weathermen better analyse weather conditions to predict timely warnings against turbulent thunderstorms or cyclones.
It can also transmit information about a cloud activity of around 250 kilometre from the area, its distance from land, its composition as well as the number and size of water droplets found in a cloud.
A study published in the quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society this month said a Doppler radar significantly improves forecasting models used to track monsoon systems, influencing the monsoon in and around India.
Research by scientists at Purdue University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IIT-D) said the radar could pinpoint where the rainfall will occur accurately from the present 200 kilometres range to 75 kilometre.
For instance, if the current model predicts rain between Andheri to Churchgate, the radar can further narrow the area and forecast rain between Andheri to Mumbai Central.
“The radar will monitor rainfall intensity from the time it starts raining rather than after it rains,” said Professor Kapil Gupta of IIT-Bombay who designed the monsoon website for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
“Based on the direction of the cloud and rainfall intensity, weathermen will have sufficient lead time for early warning of increased rain.”