New Delhi: 

Scientists at the India Meteorological Department and other agencies are working to create models to forecast occurrence of thunderstorms six to 12 hours in advance, learning lessons from last year's deadly storms in pre-monsoon season that killed over 200 people in the north Indian plains, top officials have said. 

Mritunjay Mohapatra, IMD Additional Director General said a team of scientists from the IMD, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) are working on models that could forecast probability of thunderstorms well in advance. 

The IMD, the IITM and NCMRWF work under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. 


M Rajeevan from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said this year the IMD plans to have Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place for dealing with thunderstorms instances and it will be working more closely with the National Diaster Management Authority (NMDA). 


Sending early warnings to states will give them more time to respond, he said, adding the system should be in place by April. 


Last year in May, over 200 people died in thunderstorm incident. In Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh alone, violent wind had killed nearly 180 people last year. 


The heating of north Indian plains during the peak monsoon season, clubbed with winds bringing moisture from the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal or due to a western disturbance, form conditions that lead to formation of a thunderstorm. 


"It may form in an hour and dissipate the next hour. But it brings strong winds, rains and lightening along with it," Rajeevan said. 


The IMD was last year criticised by the two worst-hit states for not forecasting the thunderstorms, a charge rejected by the weather agency. The IMD was also rapped by the Prime Minister's Office over the issue. 


Mohapatra said the IMD is also contemplating to send alerts on thunderstorms through Twitter.