Meet The Cyclone Man Of India Who Has Transcended Indian Meteorological System In The Global Arena- Dr Mrutunjay Mohapatra


In a world where weather patterns can be unpredictable and often unleash devastating consequences, the role of meteorologists and weather forecasters becomes paramount. Among these dedicated professionals, Dr Mrutunjay Mohapatra stands as a shining example of leadership and expertise in the field. As the Director-General of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Dr Mohapatra has dedicated his career to enhancing weather forecasting capabilities and strengthening early warning systems, particularly for severe weather events like cyclones. His remarkable journey, fueled by a childhood encounter with the destructive power of nature, has led him to become India’s renowned ‘Cyclone Man’. With his pioneering efforts and relentless commitment to public safety, Dr Mohapatra continues to make significant contributions to the field of meteorology and weather forecasting, shaping a safer and more resilient future for India and beyond.

Find below the excerpts of the most intriguing exclusive interview of Dr Mrutyunjay Mahapatra IMD DG after being elected the third Vice-president of World Meteorological Organization.

Sir, Many many Congratulations for being elected VP to WMO as an Odia, you made the whole nation proud of your exemplary service in Indian Meteorological Dept. We are really honored to have an opportunity to take your valuable time.

Dr. Mohapatra: Thank you so much to all of you of having such love & affection. I am really grateful & humbled as well.


Q: Dr Mohapatra, can you share with us an overview of your career path and how you became interested in meteorology and weather forecasting?

A: As a young boy, I witnessed the destruction caused by a cyclone in my village, leaving an indelible mark on my mind. This experience sparked my curiosity and a deep desire to understand and predict cyclones. I pursued my studies in physics and joined the IMD in 1992. Since then, I have been devoted to enhancing our weather forecasting capabilities, particularly in the area of cyclones, with the aim of minimizing the loss of life and property.


Q: As the Director-General of the IMD, what are your primary responsibilities and objectives?

A: As the Director-General, my responsibilities encompass overseeing the overall functioning of the IMD and providing leadership in weather forecasting, climate monitoring, and research activities. My primary objective is to continuously improve our weather prediction capabilities and early warning systems, enabling us to provide accurate and timely information to the public and relevant stakeholders.


Q: Could you tell us about the initiatives you have undertaken to enhance India’s weather forecasting capabilities and early warning systems for severe weather events?

A: Over the years, we have focused on modernizing our weather prediction infrastructure. This includes the deployment of state-of-the-art satellites, Doppler radars, and an extensive network of weather stations. These advancements have allowed us to predict cyclones up to five days in advance, providing crucial time for evacuation and preparedness. Additionally, we have implemented efficient data analysis techniques and improved communication channels to ensure the timely dissemination of weather information.


Q: How has your leadership contributed to the development and implementation of advanced technologies and models for weather prediction in India?

A: One of my key roles has been to drive the modernization efforts of the IMD. We have invested in the latest technology, such as satellites and radars, to gather accurate and real-time data. We have also focused on developing sophisticated models and algorithms to analyze this data and improve our forecasting accuracy. Through collaboration with national and international partners, we have embraced innovation and continually upgraded our forecasting systems.


Q: Can you share some notable achievements or milestones during your tenure at the IMD?

A: One of the significant achievements was accurately predicting the path of cyclonic storm Phailin in 2013, which struck the coast of Odisha. Due to timely and accurate warnings, civil authorities were able to evacuate over a million people, resulting in minimal loss of life. Similar success stories include the effective early warnings for cyclones Hudhud and Vardha. These achievements stand as testaments to the progress we have made in saving lives through advanced forecasting.


Q: What challenges do you anticipate in the field of meteorology and weather forecasting in the coming years, and how do you plan to address them?

A: The field of meteorology is ever-evolving, and challenges persist. Climate change brings new complexities, impacting weather patterns and intensifying extreme weather events. Additionally, the increasing demand for precise and localized forecasts poses a constant challenge. To address these issues, we will continue to invest in research, strengthen collaborations, and embrace emerging technologies. It is through constant innovation and adaptability that we can overcome these challenges.


Q: How has the IMD collaborated with other national and international organizations to improve meteorological services and disaster management?

A: Collaboration has been instrumental in our progress. We have strong partnerships with various national and international organizations, such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). These collaborations enable us to share data, exchange expertise, and learn from best practices worldwide. By working together, we enhance our meteorological services, improve disaster management strategies, and collectively contribute to global weather prediction capabilities.


Q: What strategies and measures have you implemented to ensure the accurate and timely dissemination of weather information to the public and relevant stakeholders?

A: We recognize the importance of effective communication in saving lives during severe weather events. To ensure accurate and timely dissemination, we have established robust communication channels with government agencies, media partners, and the public. We employ multiple platforms, including websites, mobile applications, social media, and traditional media outlets, to provide weather updates, warnings, and safety guidelines promptly and in easily understandable language.


Q: How has the IMD contributed to climate monitoring and research activities in India?

A: Climate monitoring and research are vital for understanding long-term weather patterns and climate change impacts. The IMD actively engages in climate monitoring by collecting and analysing meteorological data. We contribute to research initiatives aimed at studying climate change trends, modelling future scenarios, and developing strategies to mitigate its adverse effects. Our contributions help policymakers and stakeholders make informed decisions concerning climate resilience and adaptation.


Q: Can you highlight any specific instances where the IMD’s weather forecasts and early warnings have helped in minimizing the impact of severe weather events?

A: Several instances stand out where timely and accurate forecasts have made a significant difference. During Cyclone Phailin in 2013, the IMD’s early warnings enabled the evacuation of over a million people, resulting in minimal loss of life. Additionally, our accurate forecasts have helped in minimizing the impact of cyclones like Hudhud and Vardha. These success stories reaffirm the importance of robust forecasting systems and proactive disaster management measures.


Q: How do you envision the future of meteorology and the IMD’s role in meeting the evolving needs of a changing climate and advancing technology?

A: The future of meteorology holds immense possibilities. With advancing technology, we can expect further improvements in forecasting accuracy and lead times for severe weather events. The IMD will continue to adapt and embrace emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to enhance our predictive capabilities. Additionally, we will collaborate with research institutions, strengthen international partnerships, and promote public awareness to meet the evolving needs of a changing climate.


Dr Mrutunjay Mohapatra’s dedication and leadership have revolutionized meteorological services in India. Through his expertise and visionary approach, he has significantly contributed to minimizing the impact of severe weather events and saving countless lives. As we look to the future, his unwavering commitment to innovation and collaboration will undoubtedly help India tackle the challenges posed by climate change and ensure a safer and more resilient society for generations to come. Dr Mohapatra’s journey from a young boy fascinated by cyclones to the Director-General of the IMD is an inspiring testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and scientific advancement.



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