How did Met Dept. miss Cyclone Ockhi?
Posted on December 2nd, 2017

SUNIL G WIJESINHA Colombo 5.Courtesy The Island

Heavy rains and strong winds Wednesday night and Thursday caused substantial damages to private and public property. Staff photographer Ranjith Wimalasiri captured this scene at Borella

Most international weather sites warned of downpours in Sri Lanka and South India this week. Some said it may lead to flooding. “accuweather.com” gave the warning titled “downpours return” on 23 November 2017, saying rains will come to Sri Lanka and South India the following week. In fact “weather-forecast.com” showed the expected path, day by day, of a depression. It currently shows another smaller depression east of Jaffna, which is expected to move towards Chennai and disappear by 5 December 2017.

By Monday 27 November, there were many messages and emails about an impending storm and floods this week. However, on Tuesday, 28 November, a daily newspaper carried an article that the Department of Meteorology says these foreign forecasts cannot be substantiated with data available to the Meteorological Department. People accepted that and relaxed.

The deep depression intensified into a cyclone named Ockhi, there was heavy rain and strong winds, and people were caught by surprise. Now there is more “fake news” spreading, because the Met Department has a credibility gap. More people will now rely on foreign weather sites. All the warnings given by the Met Department up to that point in time were of no avail, because seeing the statement published in the newspaper, people did not expect such bad weather.

Our Met Department is doing its best. It must be further strengthened with the equipment and personnel they need. It must be guided to have a working website which people could easily access. A 10 day forecast is essential. I often speak to a very efficient lady in the Department, who has substantially educated me on weather patterns and provides me information whenever I seek. They have the expertise and knowledge. It is better if such useful information is on their new website, and educates people on the weather, probably using more illustrations. Their old website was old style, but far easier to access.

SUNIL G WIJESINHA Colombo 5.

3 Responses to “How did Met Dept. miss Cyclone Ockhi?”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    It is very interesting to note that our Met Department never accepted it as a deep depression that intensified into a cyclone named Ockhi.

    This is typical of Sri Lankan professionals who never admits a mistake. My personal experience is that Indian and Pakistanis are the worst. Instead of quickly correcting the mistake they always try to justify it.

    In general, always low pressure leads to unsettled weather conditions and high pressure leads to settled weather conditions. You can not justify what has happened in last few days is due to atmospheric pressure depression.

    In an anticyclone (high pressure) the winds tend to be light and blow in a clockwise direction (in the northern hemisphere). Also the air is descending, which reduces the formation of cloud and leads to light winds and settled weather conditions.

    In a depression (low pressure), air is rising and blows in an anticlockwise direction around the low (in the northern hemisphere). As it rises and cools, water vapour condenses to form clouds and perhaps precipitation. This is why the weather in a depression is often unsettled – there are usually Weather fronts associated with depressions.

  2. Senerath Says:

    I agree with NMY on behaviour of 90% Sri Lankan professionals. They also somehow try to show they know something when they don’t really know.
    Wind speeds media published in the country were however not as high as a category 1 cyclone or hurricane. In India they recorded 130 km/h which is the lower end of Category 2. Judging by the damage , however, it is definitely Category 1, at least.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    There may be a political aspect to it. Even ordinary people knew it was coming as social media and website published this information. Something or someone prevented the Met Department from saying it.

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