If you’d prefer weather forecasts to tell you what the weather would “feel like” instead of arming you with just the technical information, India’s governmental meteorological agency could soon have your back!
According to a Hindustan Times report, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) plans to issue Heat Index (HI) or “real feel” predictions across the country by mid-2023, possibly from the monsoon season onwards.
On certain days, you may experience unusually high levels of heat despite the official temperature figures indicating a ‘normal’ range. This is because the heat we feel depends on other factors like humidity levels and wind speed as well.
This HI or “real feel” is a widely used parameter (especially in tropical countries) that provides a better idea of the extent of discomfort an individual is likely to experience. The higher the humidity, the higher the HI!
Therefore, platforms like The Weather Channel have been issuing the “Feels Like” temperature as a core parameter in their daily and hourly forecasts. And in the coming months, the IMD is also planning to issue similar forecasts by calculating HI.
The national forecaster intends to use multiple models to factor in not just the temperature and humidity, but also additional components like wind speed, cloud cover and duration of heat waves. And based on the day’s expected HI, the IMD will also issue a colour-based warning — featuring yellow-, orange- and red-level alerts — along with recommended precautions for the residents of the targeted region.
According to experts, HI in India is often the highest during the early summer monsoon months of June and July. The combination of 40°C-plus daytime temperatures and persistently high humidity levels of over 50% prevent human bodies from sweating effectively, thereby obstructing them from cooling down.
This impact of such high wet-bulb temperatures — essentially the combined measure of a region’s heat and humidity — could be extremely dangerous, especially for people working outdoors. In fact, continuous exposure to sustained wet-bulb temperatures of 35°C or higher could prove lethal even for healthy population groups, all of which makes this new change by the IMD a much-needed one.
The report adds that this HI model will be prepared using the data that was gathered from countrywide weather stations during a heat hazard analysis performed by the IMD last year. Its initial test run will likely be conducted in the national capital this summer. Thereafter, the HI data will be released to all the regional meteorological centres across India by the monsoon, with the aim of providing warnings for all districts in India.