Kathmandu, July 20
The government has installed nine lighting detection stations to forecast possibilities of lightning bolts two hours ahead. The stations will also allow Department of Hydrology and Meteorology to research and collect facts on lightning and thunderstorms.
According to the department, stations have been installed in Tumlingtar, Biratnagar, Simara, Kathmandu, Bhairahawa, Pokhara, Nepalgunj, Surkhet and Dhangadi. They are in the testing phase.
“Testing phase may last for about one-and-half months after which all stations will send data to the central server.” Director General at the Department Rishi Ram Sharma told THT, “Through real time data, we will forecast lightning storms half-an-hour to two hours prior of its occurrence.”
The stations will analyse trends and directions of lightning, which will help to now-cast possible incidents of lightning. Data also will help approve insurance for lightning incidents. “So far, we have not been able to help victims of lightning to claim compensation or insurance amount.” DG Sharma added, “But real time lightning data could easily help DHM certify the lightning incident.”
According to DHM, the German-based technology was brought to Nepal by DHM under Climate Investment Fund supported by World Bank, which granted Rs 40 million to instal Lightning Detection Stations.
In Nepal, lightning is becoming a major disaster that claims hundreds of lives every year. A five-year data maintained by National Emergency Operation Centre under the Ministry of Home Affairs shows as many as 553 persons were killed and 1,132 injured by lightning strikes during 2011-2015 AD.
Senior meteorologist and researcher Mani Ratna Shakya said lightning bolts are electric currents of above 10,000 degrees temperature, and can easily spread in wet and metallic objects, so people need to stay safe.
The DHM also informed that it is doing homework to instal weather radars to predict precipitation from cloud, calculate its motion, and estimate rain, snow, and hail types. Ratanagla hill (7,217 ft) in Surkhet, Ripdikot (5,905 ft) in Palpa and Nametar Chitre(7,874 ft) in Udayapur have been selected for installation of weather radars by early 2018.
A version of this article appears in print on July 21, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.