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Cyclone Phyan and a deep depression in the IMD

with 3 comments

Track of cyclone Phyan

Track of cyclone Phyan (IMD)

TOI reports:

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?


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

November 12, 2009 at 4:58 am

3 Responses

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  1. most other weather sites like wunderground and http://www.monsoondata.org have far better and more sophisticated analyses about Indian weather and the monsoon than IMD. The IMD predictions smacks of laziness. Its always (many places, few places, one or two places, isolated spots) will have (very heavy rain, heavy rain, moderate rain, light rain) — thus covering all your bases.

    For example even though rains have stopped in Chennai since Monday, the weather office keeps predicting rain in some areas, occasionally heavy. What kind of useless prediction is that? It’s clear from the satellite pictures on their own sites (and the pictures are very clear, particularly the enhanced ones) that there is not a wisp of cloud over Chennai. I could make better predictions just sitting at my terminal looking at the satellite imagery. It’s the Indian chalta hai attitude.


    November 12, 2009 at 12:24 pm

  2. BTW here *is* something that looks computer drawn though with some software from the early 90s.


    November 12, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    • Blinding improvement: from hand drawings to pen plotters! We may live to see the day when they begin to digitize their data.

      The only problem is that the track is wrong. The cyclone did not pass the way that this “advanced” device shows. The hand drawn map is actually more accurate!

      Arhopala Bazaloides

      November 12, 2009 at 6:00 pm

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