The city received 128mm rainfall on Tuesday – the highest in a day since 2010 – but the city’s only weather station could not record it as it is lying defunct for more than 20 days now.
The India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) automatic weather station (AWS), located at the National Institute of Solar Energy on the Gurugram-Faridabad Road, has been set up to supply daily weather data, such as temperature, rainfall and humidity, and is managed remotely by the department.
Tuesday’s rain was measured by a rain gauge at the district revenue office in the Mini Secretariat, from where the data was sent to the deputy commissioner’s office and further relayed to the department of revenue and disaster management, said Vijay Yadav, the district revenue officer of Gurugram.
“The AWS that gives updates on the weather has been out of order for the last few weeks. As the station is managed remotely, the data from the AWS is meant to go to the IMD office in Pune and is then relayed to the observatory at Safdarjung. But the Safdarjung office hasn’t been receiving the data for almost 20-25 days,” said Sanjiv Kumar Tyagi, a meteorologist with IMD, New Delhi.
Tyagi said that there are problems with the network that is used to send the recorded data.
He said that the battery of the weather system needs to be replaced frequently and it must be recalibrated for it to relay the data properly.
“Lack of maintenance is the reason for the AWS being non-functional,” he said, adding that the task of maintenance has been assigned to a third party.
An AWS typically consists of a weatherproof enclosure, which contains solar panels that provide the energy to run the station, a battery that stores the energy generated by the panels and sensors — thermometer rain gauge and a telemetry equipment — to send the recorded data to desired locations.
The IMD has a network of 2,000 AWS setups across the country, and according to experts, many of them aren’t relaying the weather data properly.
“Many of the department’s AWS stop working from time to time. The equipment is maintained by a contracted third party, due to which there is no sense of urgency to fix them. It doesn’t take much time to repair them,” said an IMD official familiar with the matter.
Since the IMD has installed the AWS, the department should also be its custodian, he added.
Data from these instruments are important for the IMD’s fortnightly and weekly rainfall outlook and other weather predictions. This data is used for climate research and is shared with the agriculture department as well.
Gaurav Wahi, a pearl farmer in the city, said that he relies on weather predictions for his work and the lack of data impacts him adversely. “If we are unprepared when it rains too much or becomes too hot, the mortality rate of mussels (livestock) increases,” he said, adding that they rely on the IMD for weather updates, and in the absence of continuous and uniform data, their business suffers.