Thursday, May 14, 2009

Low pressure may spur monsoon

India's monsoon could arrive a few days earlier than usual, sped up by a low pressure area around Lakshadweep from mid-May, a weather official said on Wednesday.

"We are expecting some low pressure area around Lakshadweep from 18th May...If the low pressure area becomes a cyclone, the monsoon will arrive faster," a director-level official of the Indian Meteorological Department told Reuters.

The monsoon normally arrives around June 1 in Kerala. Lakshadweep is an adjoining island and a part of Indian territory.

Earlier, the government predicted India's annual monsoon at 96 percent of the long-term average, which would make it the worst season in five years, although the near normal forecast raised hope for economic support and bumper crops.

The weather office regards rainfall to be nearly normal if it ranges from 96 percent to 104 percent of the long-term average.

A weather official based in Pune in western India echoed similar hopes on the back of a low pressure formation.

"The monsoon may come a few days earlier...formation of low pressure area may influence the monsoon flow," D.Sivananda Pai, director of government-run National Climate Center at Pune, said on Wednesday.

IMD: Doppler radar to be functional by mid-July

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) at a press conference on Tuesday stated that efforts were on to get the Doppler Weather Radar (DWR) operational by mid week of July, for better prediction of rains in the city. However, the DWR is not the sole tool that IMD depends on to predict monsoon - it is just one of the several paraphernalia used to collect information on cloud formation, advancement and wind direction - the Met Department clarified.

Updating the status of the installation, Dr R V Sharma, deputy director general of IMD, Mumbai, said, "The DWR equipment has arrived at the Mumbai port on April 27 and IMD office on May 7. Now, we are conducting terrace modification work at Archana building in Navy Colony so that the antenna could be installed before the monsoon."

He said the Navy had assured to complete the work by May 31. Depending on the progress, plans are on to hand over the equipment to the suppliers, Indian Firm of Radar, on May 20.

"Installation and integration would take about a month after which we will need two to three weeks to test the equipment. Considering all these factors, we are trying to get the radar commissioned in about one-and-a-half months."

He pointed out that there could be several road blocks and that heavy rains and strong winds may create difficulties during installation.

The Met department of Mumbai was so far using a conventional radar which would relay the cloud movement, cloud formation and moisture precipitation every half-an-hour. DWR is a more advanced equipment which would relay the same factors every 15 minutes.

27 killed as storm lashes northern India

At least 27 people were killed in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh in heavy rainstorms that uprooted trees and caused several houses to collapse, news reports and officials said Tuesday.

The PTI news agency, quoting police sources, reported 27 people had died in seven districts including Hardoi, Mathura, Lucknow, Mainpuri, Aligarh, Etawah and Kannauj.

According to the report, the highest number of deaths was reported from Hardoi and Mathura districts where 13 locals lost their lives.

'Most of the deaths were caused in incidents of house collapses or trees and electrical poles falling down on locals or their dwellings,' revenue official Manvendra Gupta said by telephone from the state capital of Lucknow.

Winds up to 110 kilometres per hour also disrupted power supplies in the affected districts. The movement of trains at several places in the state was hampered by the weather, officials said.

The storms were typical of the pre-monsoon period and were caused by an 'upper-air cyclonic pressure formed over the northern regions of the country,' Gupta said. India's monsoon season usually lasts from June to October.

Freak weather mystery - Bahrain

WEATHER conditions in Bahrain over the last two days are highly unusual for this time of the year, according to meteorology officials. The high-velocity north-westerly, "40-day winds" normally begin in early June and continue till the middle of July, said Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) Meteorology assistant under-secretary Abdul Majeed Isa.

"We are experiencing these conditions because of a low pressure area over India and Pakistan," he told the GDN.

"They begin as soon as the monsoon season begins to set in in the Indian sub-continent."

Mr Isa said it was also unusual for the monsoons to set in so early.

"This is very unusual and experts all over the region have nothing else to blame than global warming and climate change," he said.

The official said it was not, however, a matter of concern.

"It is unusual now, but if it happens over and over again, it will affect the weather patterns in this part of the world," said Mr Isa.

Strong surface winds, with average speeds of between 24 and 25 knots have been reported in Bahrain since Monday night with gushes of wind sometimes reaching between 34 and 36 knots.

"This is expected to continue over the next few days and should subside by Friday," said Mr Isa.

He said people should take care in the high velocity winds and warned fishermen not to venture out into the sea unless necessary.

"Care should be taken to prevent any mishaps," said Mr Isa.

He said the winds were leading to rising sands in several places, which was causing discomfort to workers and motorists.