The India Meteorological Department has decided to set up a part-time observatory in Siliguri, holding out the hope of more accurate weather forecasts for tourists planning trips to Darjeeling.
The observatory will come up on the campus of Siliguri College. Despite being the main city and gateway to north Bengal, Siliguri was not on the IMD map so far. Flash floods are common in the hills and trigger roadblocks that often torment tourists.
Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, deputy director-general, IMD, Calcutta, said part-time observatories were meant to get more weather readings and raise awareness on weather sciences, particularly among youths.
“Many tourists want exact weather updates. This is a problem as we do not get any information about Siliguri and bank on private websites,” said Samrat Sanyal, who runs a travel house in Siliguri.
The staff of the college will be trained by IMD officials to take readings at the observatory and send the data to the regional headquarters in Calcutta. Jayanta Kar, president of the managing committee of Siliguri College, said the observatory was likely to be operational in a couple of months.
“A part-time observatory is equipped with instruments such as the rain gauge, Stevensons’ Screen, wind vane and anemometer. These help provide forecasts for temperature, rain and humidity, even velocity of storms,” said Gopinath Raha, director of the Regional Meteorological Centre at Gangtok. Stevensons’ Screen is a shelter for weather-reading instruments.
IMD insiders said a lot would depend on the college’s commitment to ensure the instruments were regularly monitored and the data passed on to the department’s main offices.