Cyclone Phyan and a deep depression in the IMD
Cyclone Phyan, which crossed the Konkan as well as the Mumbai region on Wednesday, was the first cyclonic storm in the region in November
for 43 years.
“This kind of storm is not very common in November,” said A B Mazumdar, deputy director general meteorology, India Meteorological Department (IMD). “The last such storm in November was in 1966,” he added.
Phyan was the result of a deep depression over the east central Arabian Sea which covered into a storm by Tuesday night and then moved towards Mumbai on Wednesday.
It is a little disconcerting to find that the definitive map of the cyclone Phyan’s history is hand drawn [The hand drawn sketch was replaced after 2009]. I have nothing against hand-drawn maps, aesthetically; however, data display not being automated points to a deeper problem in the IMD. The reason for digital data-recording in the sciences is that data then becomes polymorphous: you can view the same thing in multiple ways very quickly. These automated analysis and visualization tools aid in understanding. The fact that IMD is putting out hand-drawn maps means that it takes the agency a huge amount of effort to visualize data in different ways. Such a barrier to analysis usually means that there are analyses which are not performed at all. Could that be one of the reasons for the poor predictions of the monsoon, year after year?
Ask anyone: a retailer, an accountant, a scientist, and they will tell you how data automation aids understanding. This revolution is so old that it is no longer even remarked on. Why is the IMD stuck so firmly in the late 19th century?