Flood forecast on Facebook

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Guwahati, June 24: People in the flood-prone Northeast now no longer need to remain glued to the TV or radio for flood forecast and rainfall warnings.
Such information is now available on Facebook and twitter with the Central Water Commission (CWC) taking to social media for quick and wider dissemination in order to reduce flood damage.
“Since people want quick dissemination of flood warning, from this year we have started giving daily flood forecast, rainfall data and water discharge from the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra along with advisory for the same 3 days in advance on our Facebook page and twitter handle. Since this is an age of social media, people in the flood-prone areas like Assam and parts of Arunachal Pradesh can see the forecast for timely safety measures. We have also started a WhatsApp group where we share the same data with officials in Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA), Indian Metrological Department, Water Resource Department, the Railways, Defence personnel, Ministers and others for timely action,” Superintendent Engineer of CWC, Guwahati, Ravi Ranjan said here on Saturday. “At the same time, we are e-mailing the same to Ministers, MLAs, Deputy Commissioners and other officials,” he said.
The data is gathered from 29 flood forecast stations in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and 20 others in Bhutan. The Brahmaputra, flowing from Tibet through Arunachal Pradesh, inundates vast areas in Assam while the rivers flowing down the hills of Bhutan wreak havoc in the lower Assam areas almost every year.
The ASDMA at present disseminates the flood warning to up to the village level through Government officials like Deputy Commissioners, Sub-Divisional Officers and Circle Officers through the flood early warning system developed by Shillong-based North Eastern Space Applications Centre. But delay in spreading the warning among common people and accuracy are common complaints, which often impede timely evacuation of people from the flood-prone areas.
“This year we have also started disseminating forecast of inundation data 3 days in advance as an experiment,” Ranjan said. “The data sent from our flood forecast stations is processed in our office here.”
“We have collaborated with Google recently for using their platforms for more effective dissemination of the flood forecast from next year and we hope to do so together with NESAC,” he said.
On the frequent questions about accuracy of the forecasts, Ranjan said, “Now the flood and water discharge forecast is almost accurate but we are experimenting with the inundation forecast. We will try to improve the same once we identify the weak areas this flood season,” he said.
Floods have claimed at least 24 lives so far this year in the Northeast. (TTNE)