Threat of rain – will it dampen Commonwealth Games?

By Richa Sharma, IANS,

New Delhi: Go away rains, come back after the Commonwealth Games – that’s what the Indian capital may be left saying as the weatherman forecasts the possibility of thundershowers during the mega event in October 2010.

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What’s more, India has no plans yet to use rockets, artillery and aircraft to disperse clouds during the Oct 3-14 event like China did on the eve of the Beijing Olympics.

Mausam Bhavan, the headquarters of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) here, has forecast rain during the first week of the Games after studying the weather pattern for October in the last 30 years.

“Our data shows a possibility of rain during the Games as we had rains early this month. The data will help the Games organising committee study the weather conditions and plan their schedule,” IMD director general Ajit Tyagi told IANS.

Though the monsoon withdraws from the national capital by the end of September, thundershowers in early October could interfere with the Games. The average number of rainy days during the month is only two and the average rainfall 25.9 mm.

Most Octobers have seen rain early on, the heaviest being 46 mm in 1975.

The IMD has collated climatological data — rainfall, humidity, wind velocity, maximum and minimum temperature, and visibility — for the month of October between 1971 and 2000.

It wants to be as accurate as possible during the Games and for this it has procured hi-tech equipment at a cost of Rs.470 million. By April, forecasting the weather is going to be a lot more reliable.

The weather forecast will play a crucial role in scheduling the Games as wind conditions will have an effect on events like sailing, archery and shooting and heat index will be taken into account in scheduling energy-sapping long-distance events and marathons.

However, there are no plans for cloud seeding yet.

“As of now, there are no plans for cloud seeding during the Commonwealth Games,” said S.C. Bhan, IMD director. He is heading the Games-related IMD projects.

Generally, the weather is likely to be pleasant during the Games as this is a month when one can experience all seasons in a single day.

There could be a nip in the air in the morning followed by rain, it could turn muggy with the maximum temperature rising to 31-35 degrees Celsius and then get chilly by nightfall with the mercury dropping to 16 degrees Celsius.

What could actually bother the athletes is high humidity in the 80-90 percent range. The average wind speed during the Games period could be 1 kmph to 9 kmph.

The IMD is setting up 70 Automatic Weather Stations (AWS), Doppler weather radars, vertical weather profilers, microwave radiometers and sky radiometers to provide accurate weather forecast for all stakeholders, organisers, athletes and the public in general during the Games.

The IMD will provide information and forecast for 60 locations in Delhi and the national capital region (NCR), especially at all Games venues. The forecast can be from one hour to five days so as to help everyone plan better, particularly the athletes and spectators.

“The weather forecast will be based on data collected from satellite images, radars, wind profilers and automatic weather stations,” said Tyagi.

The forecast will also be venue-specific with warnings about humidity, heat and human discomfort index, and forecasting day and night temperature, lightning, thunderstorms and rain.

(Richa Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])