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How a cyclone warning is generated in India
New Delhi: A behind-the-scenes look into the infrastructure and the process that precedes a cyclone warning
INDIA IS A large country with a coastline of about 8000 km, which makes the country vulnerable to severe tropical cyclones arising in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian sea. Tropical cyclones are mostly characterised by torrential rain, gales and storm surges, causing massive loss of life and property. They also result in extensive damage to standing crops and loss of livestock.
In the last five decades, government is making attempts to highlight the use of information technology in providing early warning systems for effective disaster management, especially in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal coasts, which are susceptible to such storms.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) provides cyclone warnings from the Area Cyclone Warning Centres (ACWCs) at Calcutta, Chennai and Mumbai, and Cyclone Warning Centres (CWCs) at Bhubaneswar, Visakhapatnam and Ahmedabad. The IMD has developed the necessary infrastructure to generate and disseminate the cyclone warnings to the cyclone prone coastal areas. It uses a number of communication channels like telegram, telefax and e-mails, etc. to communicate warning messages at appropriate levels.
Cyclone warning is done in two stages. At first a warning on ‘cyclone alert’ is issued 48 hours in advance of the expected commencement of adverse weather over coastal areas. The second stage ‘cyclone warning’ is issued 24 hours in advance.
The IMD constantly examines the coastline for the likely genesis of tropical storms with the help of satellite imagery, particularly those from the multipurpose geo-stationary satellite, INSAT. Information from ships and ocean buoys is also taken into consideration. There is a chain of Cyclone Detection Radars (CDRs) that are installed along the coastal belt of India have proved to be an effective tool to the cyclone warning work. These radars can locate and track approaching Tropical Cyclones within a range of 400 km.
The National Disaster Management Bill, 2005 also emphasises the setting up, maintaining, reviewing and upgrading of early warning mechanisms and the dissemination of proper information to the public.
The aim of any warning system is to alert people to take appropriate and timely steps for the safety of life and property. A natural disaster cannot be evaded but we need to make effective use of available resources to minimise the loss and aftermath.

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