Kathmandu, August 9:

The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DoHM) is strengthening its flood-forecasting system within a year to disseminate reliable information to minimise the impact of floods.

The country lacks a reliable flood-forecasting mechanism. Though floods can be forecast effectively with the real time data of rainfall every hour, the current mechanism records rainfall once in 24 hours from 40 stations, which is inappropriate to make predictions of floods, especially flash floods that occur within some hours of rain.

Data on rainfall are circulated through post and they take days to reach the destination, while floods may occur within hours of incessant rainfall.

Dr Keshav Prasad Sharma, deputy director general of the DHM, said they have successfully tested a real time rainfall data collection system through the CDMA technique in Pokhara. We will test the effectivity of the system through 15 to 20 stations in the Narayani basin before next monsoon, he said.

The system updates the rainfall data through the CDMA phone automatically to Internet every hour. “The system is cheap and feasible for Nepal. We plan to establish some stations and test the effectivity of the system there. If the stations work as expected, we will immediately set up other 80 stations, equipped with the system, throughout the nation.”

The establishment of 100 such stations across the country can help make needed predictions. Sharma added that after the operation of the stations, about 70 per cent authentic predictions can be made.

According to Sharma, it takes Rs 100 thousand to develop one system. The government and donor agencies have promised to help develop such systems, he said. A reliable flood prediction mechanism can help curb death toll as people get time to prepare themselves before the floods, Sharma said.