KATHMANDU, April 2: Had the heavy storm that struck villages in Bara and Parsa districts on Sunday taken place within a 200-kilometer radius of Surkhet, weather radar would have detected it four hours earlier. Meteorological Forecasting Division (MFD) officials said there would have been enough time to take precautions if enough radars had been in place in the country.
Sunday's storm, which left at least 27 persons dead and destroyed hundreds of houses, hit areas that were beyond 200 meters of the weather radar in Surkhet . The Surkhet radar was supposed to be the first of three that were being installed to keep the country safe from such weather incidents. The other two radars were to be installed in Palpa and Udayapur.
“If adequate budget had been allocated for the radar project, such storms could have been predicted four hours in advance,” MFD meteorologist Barun Paudel told Republica. He said the state-of- the-art radars have an impact radius of 200 kilometers and three such radars were required for timely forcastings. Sources at MFD said if there had been no budget constraint, the radars would already have been in place.
According to MFD, the storm that hit villages in Bara and Parsa on Sunday had a vertical direction of action. “Our initial investigations show two short vertical storms lasting less than two minutes that sucked up material from the ground,” meteorologist Paudel said. He added that such storm do take place in the terai region but they are generally on a very small scale. Sunday's storm was an amalgam of various local storms.
MFD currently uses satellite mapping, numerical analysis and data from neighboring countries to forecast storms.
Paudel also spoke of the need for more storm-resistant housing . “Kathmandu witnessed similar weather but there was no damage,” he said.
According to spokesperson of the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Pravin Raj Aryal, it will take some months for the radar installation in Palpa and eastern Nepal to start.