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Rain or shine? IMD’s Doppler radar in Mumbai’s Colaba stops working

This is the second time the Doppler radar has stopped working since December 4, 2017, when Cyclone Ockhi brushed past Mumbai’s coast.

mumbai Updated: Jul 11, 2019 16:40 IST
Badri Chatterjee
Badri Chatterjee
Hindustan Times
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The intermittent heavy showers in Mumbai on Wednesday didn’t stop these boys from playing cricket at Shivaji Park.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Doppler radar — which surveys weather patterns, and forecasts and records rainfall — stopped working at 4am on Wednesday.

The website said it was “under maintenance”.

“The Doppler radar is not working owing to technical problems. Engineers are looking into it. It will be restored as early as possible,” said Sunil Kamble, scientist and IMD in-charge of the radar. The IMD maintained this would not have an impact on weather forecasting for Mumbai.

“Other weather products such as satellite imagery and rapid picture systems that give the exact location of weather systems, are available,” said an IMD official, who did not wish to be named.

This is the second time the Doppler radar has stopped working since December 4, 2017, when Cyclone Ockhi brushed past Mumbai’s coast.

The radar, located at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Colaba, can carry out weather surveillance in a 300 km radius from its location.

It provides long-range weather surveillance, detects and forecasts rainfall, cloud formation, thunderstorms and even severe weather conditions such as tropical storms.

“A big city like Mumbai has a lot of spatial variation in rainfall, which a Doppler radar can detect,” said Akshay Deoras, meteorologist and PhD researcher at the department of meteorology, University of Reading, UK. “An on-duty meteorologist monitoring such conditions can also alert the administration and people.”

For most of Wednesday, the city and suburbs saw moderate rainfall. Between 8.30am and 8.30pm, south Mumbai and suburbs recorded continuous showers, with Colaba recording 60.2mm rain and Santacruz getting 21.8mm rain. “On Wednesday, cloud bands over the city led to more rain in south Mumbai than the suburbs under the influence of a cyclonic circulation (weather system) located over south Gujarat that enhanced westerly winds over the Mumbai coast,” said Kamble. “Under its influence, intermittent showers with heavy to very heavy falls are expected across isolated areas on Thursday.”

Private weather forecasting agency Skymet, however, said that from Thursday, Mumbai is likely to witness a reduction in rain intensity till July 17. “A trough (weather system) extending from Konkan to Kerala will weaken active monsoon conditions leading to light showers for Mumbai, moderate to heavy showers for south Konkan, and very less rainfall activity over interior Maharashtra,” said Mahesh Palawat, vice-president (meteorology and climate change), Skymet.

Deoras also had a similar view. “Substantial reduction in rainfall in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is expected over the next seven days due to break-monsoon situation. The region will witness at the most light rain showers with no significant rainfall,” he said.

On Monday, the IMD had issued a Nowcast warning at 8.30am, when heavy rain was recorded in the suburbs from 8am in a span of three hours. For Tuesday, IMD issued a forecast of 200mm rain, but city only recorded 7mm over 24 hours (8.30am Tuesday to 8.30am Wednesday).

First Published: Jul 11, 2019 16:40 IST

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