Context: Parliamentary panel for synergy between IMD and private players

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  • According to the Standing Committee on Science:
    • There is a need for better synergy between the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and private forecasters.
    • To avoid confusion, especially during extreme climate events like cyclones or flash floods.
  • Currently, there are three private players in India i.e.; 
    • Skymet (India), 
    • Earth Networks and 
    • IBM Weather.
  • In recent years, the IMD and Skymet have often made differing predictions on the monsoon.
  • In June 2021, the Kerala government, dissatisfied with the IMD’s performance, hired Skymet Private Limited, Earth Networks and the IBM Weather Company.
    • In order to use ensemble predictions to improve extreme weather alert services in the State.
    • The IMD was vociferous on the issue and said that multiple predictions often create unnecessary confusion.
  • The members of the committee also expressed that, year after year, the IMD assesses the monsoon to be normal though the actual experience is different.
  • Statistically, the monsoon may be normal in terms of the average rainfall, but most certainly the number of rainfall days had decreased. 
  • There have also been far more flash floods in recent times than ever before, the members pointed out.
  • The committee also discussed: 
    • The current monsoon forecast, 
    • Deficit regions and States, 
    • Urban heat islands
    • Distribution of weather stations across districts, and 
    • Matching meteorological sub-divisions with agro-climatic zones.

Related Fact:

Flash Flood:

  • Flash floods are characterised by very fast rise and recession of flow of small volume and high discharge. 
  • It can cause high damages because of suddenness. 
    • A flood caused by heavy or excessive rainfall in a short period of time, generally less than 6 hours
  • This occurs in hilly and not too hilly regions and sloping lands where heavy rainfall and thunderstorms or cloudbursts are common.
    • Geomorphically low-lying areas: washes, rivers, dry lakes and basins.
  • Reasons for the cause of Flash Flood:
    • It may be caused due to heavy rain associated with : 
      • A severe thunderstorm, 
      • Hurricane, 
      • A tropical storm, or 
      • Meltwater from ice or snow flowing over ice sheets or snowfields.
    • Flash floods may occur after the collapse of a natural ice or debris dam, or a human structure such as a man-made dam.
    • In areas on or near volcanoes, flash floods have also occurred after eruptions, when glaciers have been melted by the intense heat.
  • Factors impacting the speed of Flash Flood:
    • The intensity of the rainfall, 
    • The location and distribution of the rainfall, 
    • The land use and topography, 
    • Vegetation types and growth/density, 
    • Soil type, and 
    • Soil water-content

Flash Flood in India:

  • WMO estimates that flash floods account for 85% of flooding incidents across the world, leading to around 5,000 deaths every year.
  • At present in India, the Central Water Commission (CWC), which monitors dams, warns of rising water levels in water reservoirs, which are usually taken to be signs of imminent floods.
  • Recently CWC has recently tied up with internet giant Google to develop software applications to visualise rising water levels during heavy rains.

The past incidents of Flash Flood in India:

  • 2012 Himalayan flash floods
  • 2013: Uttarakhand, Uttarakhand.
  • 2013: Kedarnath, Uttarakhand.
  • 2014 and 2018: Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir.
  • 2017: Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Bihar and multiple states in the North East.

More about NDMA guidelines for Flash Floods.