Met office and weather predictions
The media has been discussing the fact that the Met office had warned of "heavy to very heavy rains" in Uttarkhand and warned against "Char Dham yatra".
I find this very amusing. I have grown up to the "met office" forecasts of "heavy to very heavy rains" in the Met office report in Doordarshan and All India Radio news. If we were to analyse the "forecast" against the actuals, I would not be surprised if it were only about 50% accurate. This is the same success that one has, if one were to predict if the toss of a coin would result in "heads" or "tails".
I have nothing against Met office. I am sure they have competent people who work with the data available.
In US, I have seen weather reports on the hotel desks. They say "rains in the evening" or "windy morning" and you can be sure that it is. And this is not for the state or the city, but for that particular town - a highly localised weather report. US has exclusive weather channels, which seems to indicate that there is enough data to warrant a channel of its own.
Sadly the same can't be said of India. Take a look at the Indian Met Department site and contrast it with the corresponding US site.
I can only think of the R K Laxman cartoon where every one but the Met office guy has an umbrella or a raincoat on a rainy day. I am unable to get the cartoon but found this blog post interestingly on weather forecasting.
The Uttarkhand tragedy has nothing to do with weather forecast or monsoon rains, but a response from nature to man's attempts to manipulate it. A very interesting Hindu article talks about the irony of this tragedy, asking how God could do this to his pilgrims.