NEW DELHI: From nearly 10,000 deaths in Odisha caused by a super cyclone in 1999 to less than 20 in Hudhud, there has been a tremendous improvement in India’s preparedness to handle cyclones, with improved early warning system, better coordination among state and Central agencies and awareness among people. But officials feel that management of flash floods like in Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand last year continue to remain a challenge due to a shorter window for warning and evacuation.
For Hudhud, however, the officials credited excellent coordination between all arms of government for successfully carrying out rescue and relief work.
About 500 scientists in various departments of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) worked 24X7 since October 7 to collect observations, study, model and prepare accurate forecast of the route, wind velocity, landfall of Hudhud, termed as a very severe cyclone by the weather office. Apart from issuing forecasts every three hours, a team of scientists led by IMD cyclone warning division head M Mahapatra was also coordinating.
Meanwhile, the IMD has been receiving accolades from across the country for successfully handling the task with many young students writing to IMD head LS Rathore showing their interest to join the meteorology department. The IMD was blamed by authorities for failing to provide accurate update of rains in Uttarakhand in June 2013 and J&K floods last month.
“Our preparedness technologically and management-wise has improved much when it comes to a cyclone, but you cannot compare cyclones to flash floods. Forecast for rain-induced flash floods can be given 3-6 hours before, while in case of cyclone its 4-5 days,” said Rathore, who has not slept much in the last 48 hours.
OP Singh, director general, NDRF, said a river flood can be managed, but flash floods are difficult to predict because of a window of just 3-4 hours for warning and evacuation.