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44% of IMD's heavy rain warnings proved to be incorrect: RTI reply

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 26-03-2018 Badri Chatterjee

Mumbai, March 26 -- The India Meteorological Department (IMD), Mumbai, issued 32 rainfall predictions in 2017, of which 14 turned out to be incorrect. This means 44% of the predictions of heavy, very heavy or extremely heavy rainfall warnings issued by IMD were incorrect.

The information was revealed by the weather bureau in its reply to a reply to right to information (RTI) query. The southwest monsoon is active over Mumbai between June and September.

Meteorologists and independent advisor to the state said international weather agencies at major cities such as London, Miami, New York, and Dubai ensure they maintain 80% to 85% accuracy throughout the year. Based on an RTI filed by activist Chetan Kothari in December, the IMD (Mumbai) responded to his query on Friday.

IMD officials said variability of weather factors plays a major role during predictions, especially in tropical areas.

"Every monsoon is different from the next one. It cannot be generalised as there is a difference of amount of rainfall, intensity variability of weather events and number of heavy rainfall days, among others. However, there is always scope for improvement," said KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, IMD.

He added, "Since it is forecast, there is a tendency that it may get deviated due to changing weather factors. This is just data from one year. Some years might not have challenges and forecasts have been 80% accurate." The verification of weather forecasts are further based on three separate categories - correct, moderate and unusable, he said.

Akshay Deoras, meteorologist and independent meteorological advisor to the state, said false alarms mainly happen in India because forecasters blindly rely on numbers instead of estimating impacts.

"IMD Mumbai's probability of correctly issuing a rainfall warning last year has been as good as getting a head or tail on tossing a coin. This kind of forecasting is dangerous as it leads to confusion among citizens due to randomness in false alarms," he said.

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