• Abhilash, S., and Coauthors, 2007: Assimilation of Doppler weather radar observations in a mesoscale model for the prediction of intense rainfall events associated with mesoscale convective systems using 3DVAR. J. Earth Syst. Sci., 116, 275304.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Abhilash, S., K. Mohankumar, and S. Das, 2008: Simulation of microphysical structure associated with tropical cloud clusters using mesoscale model and comparison with TRMM observations. Int. J. Remote Sens., 29, 24112432.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alvi, S. M. A., and K. G. Punjabi, 1966: Diurnal and seasonal variations of squalls in India. Indian J. Meteor. Geophys., 7, 206216.

  • Asnani G. C., 1985: Tornadoes–A review. Vayu Mandal, 97133.

  • Barkan, J., H. Kutiel, and P. Alpert, 2004: Climatology of dust sources in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, based on TOMS data. Indoor Built Environ., 13, 407419.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barkan, J., P. Alpert, H. Kutiel, and P. Kishcha, 2005: Synoptics of dust transportation days from Africa towards Italy and central Europe. J. Geophys. Res., 110, D07208, doi:10.1029/2004JD005222.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bhattacharya, P. K., and S. K. Banerjee, 1980: Premonsoon tornadoes over West Bengal during April 1977. Vayu Mandal, 10, 1418.

  • Chaudhury, A., and A. K. Banerjee, 1983: A study of hailstorms over northeast India. Vayu Mandal, 13, 9195.

  • Das, S., 2010: Climatology of thunderstorms over the SAARC region. SMRC Rep. 35, 75 pp. [Available from SAARC Meteorological Research Centre E-4/C, Agargaon, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Das, S., and Coauthors, 2009a: SAARC STORM pilot field experiment 2009. SMRC Rep. 32, 72 pp. [Available from SAARC Meteorological Research Centre E-4/C, Agargaon, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Das, S., B. R. S. B. Basnayake, M. K. Das, M. A. R. Akand, M. M. Rahman, M. A. Sarker, and M. N. Islam, 2009b: Composite characteristics of nor'westers observed by TRMM and simulated by WRF model. SMRC Rep. 25, 44 pp. lsqb;Available from SAARC Meteorological Research Centre, E-4/C, Agargaon, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Das, S., and Coauthors, 2011: SAARC STORM pilot field experiment 2010. SMRC No. 40, 72 pp. [Available from SAARC Meteorological Research Centre E-4/C, Agargaon, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De, U. S., R. K. Dube, and G. S. Prakasa Rao, 2005: Extreme weather events over India in the last 100 years. J. Indian Geophys. Union, 9, 173187.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eliot, J., 1899: Hailstorm in India during the period 1883–1897 with a discussion on their distribution. Indian Meteor. Mem., 6, 237315.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goldar, R. N., S. K. Banerjee, and G. C. Debnath, 2001: Tornado in India and neighborhood. India Meteorological Department Calcutta Regional Meteorological Centre Scientific Rep. 2/2001, 27 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gopalakrishnan, V., S. D. Pawar, P. Murugavel, and K. P. Johare, 2011: Electrical characteristics of thunderstorms in the eastern part of India. J. Atmos. Sol.-Terr. Phys., 73, 18761882, doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2011.04.022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gupta, H. N., and S. K. Ghosh, 1980: North Delhi tornado of 17 March 1978. Mausam, 31, 93100.

  • Houze, R. A., Jr., D. C. Wilton, and B. F. Smull, 2007: Monsoon convection in the Himalayan region as seen by the TRMM Precipitation Radar. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 133, 13891411.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hussain, A., H. Mir, and M. Afzal, 2005: Analysis of dust storms frequency over Pakistan during 1961–2000. Pak. J. Meteor., 2, 4968.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • IMD, 1944: Nor'wester of Bengal. India Meteorological Department Tech. Note 10. 17 pp.

  • Joseph, P. V., 2009: Local severe storms. Mausam, 60, 139154.

  • Joseph, P. V., D. K. Raipal, and S. N. Deka, 1980: ANDHI, the convective dust storm of northwest India. Mausam, 31, 431442.

  • Koteswaram, P., and V. Srinivasan, 1958: Thunderstorm over Gangetic West Bengal in the pre-monsoon season and the synoptic factors favourable for their formation. Indian J. Meteor. Geophys., 9, 301312.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krishna Rao, P. R., 1966: Thunderstorm studies in India—A review. Indian J. Meteor. Geophys., 12, 313.

  • Litta, A. J., and U. C. Mohanty, 2008: Simulation of a severe thunderstorm event during the STORM field experiment of 2006 using WRF-NMM model. Curr. Sci., 95, 204215.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Litta, A. J., U. C. Mohanty, and S. C. Bhan, 2010: Numerical simulation of tornado over Ludhiana (India) using WRF NMM model. Meteor. Appl., 17, 6475.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Litta, A. J., U. C. Mohanty, S. C. Bhan, and M. Mohapatra, 2011: Simulation of tornadoes over India using WRF-NMM model. Challenges and Opportunities in Agrometeorology, S. D. Attri et al., Eds., Springer, 173187.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Litta, A. J., U. C. Mohanty, S. Das, and S. M. Idicula, 2012a: Numerical simulation of severe local storms over east India using WRF-NMM mesoscale model. Atmos. Res., 116, 161184.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Litta, A. J., U. C. Mohanty, S. K. Prasad, M. Mohapatra, A. Tyagi, and S. C. Sahu, 2012b: Simulation of a tornado over Orissa (India) on 31 March 2009 using WRF-NMM model. Nat. Hazards, 61, 12191242.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mandal, G. S., and S. K. Saha, 1983: Characteristics of some recent north Indian tornadoes. Vayu Mandal, 13, 7480.

  • Middleton, N. J., 1986a: Dust storms in the Middle East. J. Arid Environ., 10, 8396.

  • Middleton, N. J., 1986b: A geography of dust storms in south-west Asia. J. Climatol., 6, 183196.

  • Middleton, N. J., and A. S. Goudie, 2001: Saharan dust: Sources and trajectories. Trans. Inst. Br. Geogr., 26, 165181.

  • Mir, H., A. Hussain, and Z. A. Babar, 2006: Analysis of thunderstorms activity over Pakistan during (1961–2000). Pak. J. Meteor., 3, 1332.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mohanty, U. C., and Coauthors, 2006: Weather summary during pilot experiment of Severe Thunderstorms Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) programme. India Department of Science and Technology Rep., 177 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mohanty, U. C., and Coauthors, 2007: Weather summary during pilot experiment of Severe Thunderstorms Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) programme. India Department of Science and Technology Rep., 179 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mohanty, U. C., and Coauthors, 2009: Weather summary during pilot experiment of Severe Thunderstorms Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) programme. India Department of Science and Technology Rep., 158 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nizamuddin, S., 1993: Hail occurrences in India. Weather, 48, 9092.

  • Raman, P. K., and K. Raghavan, 1961: Diurnal variations of thunderstorms in India during different seasons. Indian J. Meteor. Geophys., 12, 115130.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rao, K. N., C. E. J. Daniel, and L. V. Balasubramanian, 1971: Thunderstorms over India. India Meteorological Department Scientific Rep. 153, 21 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rao, P. S., 2009: Field experimental studies on land-ocean-atmosphere interactions over the Indian region during 1999–2009. Mausam, 60, 239252.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Romatschke, U., S. Medina, and R. A. Houze Jr., 2010: Regional, seasonal, and diurnal variations of extreme convection in the South Asian region. J. Climate, 23, 419439.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Srinivasan, V., K. Ramamurthy, and Y. R. Nene, 1973: Summer nor'wester and Andhi and large scale convective activity over peninsula and central parts of the country. India Meteorological Department Forecasting Manual Part 3, 137 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • STORM, 2005: STORM science plan. India Department of Science and Technology Rep., 118 pp. [Available online at www.imd.gov.in/SciencePlanofFDPs/STORM%20Science%20Plan.pdf.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tyagi, A., 2007: Thunderstorm climatology over Indian region. Mausam, 58, 189212.

  • Tyagi, A., D. R. Sikka, S. Goyal, and M. Bhowmick, 2012: A satellite based study of pre-monsoon thunderstorms (nor'westers) over eastern India and their organization into mesoscale convective complexes. Mausam, 63, 2954.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tyagi, B., V. Naresh Krishna, and A. N. V. Satyanarayana, 2011: Study of thermodynamic indices for forecasting pre-monsoon thunderstorms over Kolkata during STORM pilot phase 2006–2008. Nat. Hazards, 56, 681698, doi:10.1007/s11069-010-9582-x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tyagi, B., A. N. V. Satyanarayana, and V. Naresh Krishna, 2013 Thermodynamical structure of atmosphere during pre-monsoon thunderstorm season over Kharagpur as revealed by STORM data. Pure Appl. Geophys., 170, 675687, doi:10.1007/s00024-012-0566-5.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Webster, P. J., and Coauthors, 2002: The JASMINE pilot study. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 16031630.

  • Yamane, Y., T. Hayashi, A. M. Dewan, and F. Akter, 2009a: Severe local convective storms in Bangladesh: Part I. Climatology. J. Atmos. Res., 95, 400406, doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2009.11.004.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yamane, Y., T. Hayashi, A. M. Dewan, and F. Akter, 2009b: Severe local convective storms in Bangladesh: Part II. Environmental conditions. J. Atmos. Res., 95, 407418, doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2009.11.003.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yoneyama, K., and Coauthors, 2008: MISMO field experiment in the equatorial Indian Ocean. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 89, 18891903.

  • View in gallery

    (a) The South Asian countries in alphabetical order: namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka under the SAARC. The experimental domains for phase 1 (deep moist convection/nor'westers/severe thunderstorms), phase 2 (dry convection/dust storms/western disturbances), and phase 3 (maritime convection) are outlined in the diagram. (b) Map of India showing state boundaries (source: www.nationsonline.org).

  • View in gallery

    The road map of the SAARC STORM program. The field experiments of phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 are conducted from April to May, from the middle of April to the end of June, and from early March to the middle of May, coinciding with the onset of convection over the three regions.

  • View in gallery

    Network of observatories (AWS, SYNOP, PB, RS/RW, and DWR) for the SAARC STORM pilot field experiment phase 1 covering eastern India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.

  • View in gallery View in gallery

    Squall lines observed by (a) Doppler radar of Kolkata on 14 May 2010; (b) Khepupara radar on 11 May 2011; and Doppler radar images of Agartala on (c) 1 May 2012 and (d) 22 Mar 2013. The last event was (e) a tornado that struck in Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh, on 22 Mar 2013, killing many people and (f) producing hail of large size.

  • View in gallery View in gallery

    A typical nor'wester observed by (a) Doppler weather radar of Kolkata and (b) cloud imageries with contours of the cloud-top temperature obtained from the Kalpana-1 satellite at 1130 UTC (1700 LST) 11 May 2009, which affected parts of east India and Bangladesh.

  • View in gallery

    Vector wind fields at (a) sigma level 2 with shaded wind speed at 10 m above the surface and (b) 850 hPa on 11 May 2009.

  • View in gallery

    (a) Wind shear (500–850 hPa) and (b) vertical cross section of the vertical velocity (m s−1) at the location of the storm (91°E).

  • View in gallery

    (a) CAPE (J Kg−1) and (b) TRMM precipitation (mm) accumulated for 24 h.

  • View in gallery View in gallery

    (a) Vector wind fields at 200 hPa with geopotential contours and skew-T diagrams of (b) Bhubneshwar and (c) Kolkata at 0000 UTC 11 May 2009 obtained from the University of Wyoming website.

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 218 202 12
PDF Downloads 201 189 10

The SAARC STORM: A Coordinated Field Experiment on Severe Thunderstorm Observations and Regional Modeling over the South Asian Region

View More View Less
  • 1 National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, Noida, India
  • | 2 School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India
  • | 3 Ministry of Earth Sciences, New Delhi, India
  • | 4 Mausam Vihar, New Delhi, India
  • | 5 Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kochi, India
  • | 6 India Meteorological Department, New Delhi, India
  • | 7 SAARC Meteorological Research Centre, and Bangladesh Meteorological Department, Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • | 8 Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • | 9 Department of Hydro-Meteorological Services, Thimphu, Bhutan
  • | 10 National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, Noida, India
© Get Permissions
Full access

This article describes a unique field experiment on Severe Thunderstorm Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) jointly undertaken by eight South Asian countries. Several pilot field experiments have been conducted so far, and the results are analyzed. The field experiments will continue through 2016.

The STORM program was originally conceived for understanding the severe thunderstorms known as nor'westers that affect West Bengal and the northeastern parts of India during the pre-monsoon season. The nor'westers cause loss of human lives and damage to properties worth millions of dollars annually. Since the neighboring South Asian countries are also affected by thunderstorms, the STORM program is expanded to cover the South Asian countries under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It covers all the SAARC countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) in three phases. Some of the science plans (monitoring the life cycle of nor'westers/severe thunderstorms and their three-dimensional structure) designed to understand the interrelationship among dynamics, cloud microphysics, and electrical properties in the thunderstorm environment are new to severe weather research. This paper describes the general setting of the field experiment and discusses preliminary results based on the pilot field data. Typical lengths and the intensity of squall lines, the speed of movements, and cloud-top temperatures and their heights are discussed based on the pilot field data. The SAARC STORM program will complement the Severe Weather Forecast Demonstration Project (SWFDP) of the WMO. It should also generate large-scale interest for fueling research among the scientific community and broaden the perspectives of operational meteorologists and researchers.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dr. Someshwar Das, National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, A-50, Sector-62, Noida 201307, India, E-mail: somesh03@gmail.com

This article describes a unique field experiment on Severe Thunderstorm Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) jointly undertaken by eight South Asian countries. Several pilot field experiments have been conducted so far, and the results are analyzed. The field experiments will continue through 2016.

The STORM program was originally conceived for understanding the severe thunderstorms known as nor'westers that affect West Bengal and the northeastern parts of India during the pre-monsoon season. The nor'westers cause loss of human lives and damage to properties worth millions of dollars annually. Since the neighboring South Asian countries are also affected by thunderstorms, the STORM program is expanded to cover the South Asian countries under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). It covers all the SAARC countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) in three phases. Some of the science plans (monitoring the life cycle of nor'westers/severe thunderstorms and their three-dimensional structure) designed to understand the interrelationship among dynamics, cloud microphysics, and electrical properties in the thunderstorm environment are new to severe weather research. This paper describes the general setting of the field experiment and discusses preliminary results based on the pilot field data. Typical lengths and the intensity of squall lines, the speed of movements, and cloud-top temperatures and their heights are discussed based on the pilot field data. The SAARC STORM program will complement the Severe Weather Forecast Demonstration Project (SWFDP) of the WMO. It should also generate large-scale interest for fueling research among the scientific community and broaden the perspectives of operational meteorologists and researchers.

CORRESPONDING AUTHOR: Dr. Someshwar Das, National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, A-50, Sector-62, Noida 201307, India, E-mail: somesh03@gmail.com

South Asian countries have developed a unique program for forecasting severe thunderstorms through field experiments and research on mesoscale modeling.

The Severe Thunderstorm Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) program was originally conceived for understanding the severe thunderstorms locally known as “kal baisakhi” or nor'westers that affect West Bengal and the northeastern parts of India during the premonsoon season (March–May). In this season, a lot of thunderstorms occur over northeast India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. They are called nor'westers because they usually propagate from the northwest to the southeast. The earliest studies on nor'westers date back from the late 1920s to early 1940s. During the years 1928, 1941, and 1944, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) conducted three field experiments to understand their formation and to facilitate for their better prediction (IMD 1944). Several important features about time of development, movement, and distribution of thunderstorms were determined in these very early campaigns.

The nor'westers cause loss of human lives and damage to properties worth millions of dollars (De et al. 2005). It is now widely believed that severe thunderstorms like nor'westers take their toll quietly but steadily almost every day during the premonsoon season every year, perhaps exceeding the total causalities and damages to properties on a decadal scale compared to cyclones. For example, the severe storm that struck parts of eastern India and Bangladesh on 13 April 2010 (with the most intense portion spanning 30–40 min and winds estimated from 120 to 160 km h−1) killed more than 150 people, completely destroyed over 100,000 dwellings, partially damaged about 300,000 houses, and left nearly 500,000 people homeless. Widespread damage to crops and livestock including destruction of more than 14,000 ha of maize occurred. The storm uprooted trees, displaced rooftops, and snapped telephone and electricity lines in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

Realizing the importance of these extreme weather events and their socioeconomic impact, the India Department of Science and Technology started the nationally coordinated Severe Thunderstorm Observation and Regional Modeling (STORM) program in 2005. It is a comprehensive observational and modeling effort to improve understanding and prediction of severe thunderstorms (STORM 2005). The STORM program is a multiyear exercise and is quite complex in the formulation of its strategy for implementation. It needs different surface-based observational platforms to be organized on a mesonet basis. With gradual organization of desired observational support involving interested academic groups over eastern and northeastern India, two pilot experimental campaigns were conducted during the premonsoon seasons (April–May) of 2006 and 2007 (Mohanty et al. 2006, 2007). However, the weather knows no political boundaries. Since the neighboring South Asian countries are also affected by the nor'westers, the STORM program is expanded to cover the South Asian countries under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The STORM program covers all the SAARC countries in three phases (Fig. 1a). A road map for the SAARC STORM program is illustrated in Fig. 2. In the first phase, the focus is on nor'westers that form over the eastern and northeastern parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan. In the second phase, the dry convective storms/dust storms and deep convection that occur in the western parts of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will be investigated. Similarly, in the third phase, the maritime and continental thunderstorms over southern parts of India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives will be investigated. Thus, overall the SAARC STORM program will cover investigations about formation, modeling, and forecasting, including nowcasting of severe convective weather in the premonsoon season over South Asia.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

(a) The South Asian countries in alphabetical order: namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka under the SAARC. The experimental domains for phase 1 (deep moist convection/nor'westers/severe thunderstorms), phase 2 (dry convection/dust storms/western disturbances), and phase 3 (maritime convection) are outlined in the diagram. (b) Map of India showing state boundaries (source: www.nationsonline.org).

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

The road map of the SAARC STORM program. The field experiments of phase 1, phase 2, and phase 3 are conducted from April to May, from the middle of April to the end of June, and from early March to the middle of May, coinciding with the onset of convection over the three regions.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

Accordingly, in the first phase, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal started a joint program focusing on nor'westers. Four pilot field experiments have been conducted so far during 1–31 May of 2009–12 jointly with the four countries to collect intensive observations of nor'westers in a coordinated way (Das et al. 2009a, 2011). Considering that the thunderstorms occur at a spatial scale ranging from a few kilometers to a few hundred kilometers, it was decided that a mesonet of automatic weather stations (AWS) would be set up over Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan in a similar way as was done over West Bengal and the northeastern parts of India (Fig. 3). At least one GPS sonde is being set up at an appropriate location in each country (Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal). An additional network of stations including the AWS, GPS sounding system, and Doppler weather radar (DWR) are being set up by the government of India through the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The Doppler weather radars from India, Bangladesh, and Nepal will monitor the entire area covered in Fig. 3.

Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.

Network of observatories (AWS, SYNOP, PB, RS/RW, and DWR) for the SAARC STORM pilot field experiment phase 1 covering eastern India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

SEVERE CONVECTIVE STORMS OF SOUTH ASIA.

In this section we briefly describe the severe convective storms affecting the South Asian region.

The nor'westers.

The eastern and northeastern parts of India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal are affected by severe thunderstorms during the premonsoon months (March–May). There are as many as 30–40 days of thunderstorms in parts of northeast India during this season (STORM 2005; Tyagi 2007; Das 2010; Yamane et al. 2009a,b). Severe thunder clouds (cumulonimbus) are often arranged in long lines of 200–400 km in length and travel with speeds of about 50–60 km h−1 (Das et al. 2009b). Figure 4a shows a typical nor'wester (squall line) observed by the DWR of Kolkata (22.57°N, 88.37°E). The highest wind speeds in these squalls are 140–150 km h−1. A few of the nor'westers even reach the intensity of a tornado. Strong heating of the landmass during midday initiates convection, which gets intensified by mixing with the low-level warm moist air mass from the Bay of Bengal, and triggers violent storms (Srinivasan et al. 1973). The realization of instability depends on the large-scale flow and the synoptic systems present. In the lower troposphere, troughs, low pressure areas, and wind convergence lines are important. In the upper troposphere, a trough in westerlies and a jet stream are commonly associated with nor'westers. Superposition of favorable upper-and lower-tropospheric conditions result in generally widespread outbreaks of nor'westers (STORM 2005). Areas of upper-tropospheric positive vorticity advection in association with the troughs in westerlies are of particular importance to provide the large-scale vertical velocity situation favorable for triggering widespread thunderstorm activity (Alvi and Punjabi 1966; Raman and Raghavan 1961; Rao et al. 1971; Koteswaram and Srinivasan 1958; Krishna Rao 1966).

Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.

Squall lines observed by (a) Doppler radar of Kolkata on 14 May 2010; (b) Khepupara radar on 11 May 2011; and Doppler radar images of Agartala on (c) 1 May 2012 and (d) 22 Mar 2013. The last event was (e) a tornado that struck in Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh, on 22 Mar 2013, killing many people and (f) producing hail of large size.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

Hailstorms.

India is among the countries in the world with the highest frequency of hail. There are about 29 hail days per year of moderate to severe intensity (Nizamuddin 1993). Hail sizes comparable to mangoes, lemons, and tennis balls have been observed. Eliot (1899) found that, out of 597 hailstorms in India, 153 yielded hailstones of 3-cm diameter or greater. India and Bangladesh are different from other Northern Hemisphere tropical stations in that hail is observed in the winter and premonsoon seasons with virtually no events after the onset of the southwest monsoon. Chaudhury and Banerjee (1983) show that the percentage of hailstorm days out of thunderstorm days decreases from 5% to less than 2% from March to May for northeast India and Bangladesh.

Tornadoes.

About 72% of the reported tornadoes in South Asia occur in northeast India and Bangladesh. About 76% of the tornadoes in India occur during March–May, with the most favored month being April. More number of tornadoes have occurred in the afternoon and evening (Gupta and Ghosh 1980; Bhattacharya and Banerjee 1980; Mandal and Saha 1983). Asnani (1985), Goldar et al. (2001), and Litta et al. (2010, 2011, 2012b) have studied the tornadoes of India.

Dust storms.

The northwest India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan get convective dust storms called “aandhi” locally during the premonsoon season (Joseph et al. 1980). Convective dust storms also occur in the region extending westward across Pakistan and Arabia to the arid regions of Africa like Sudan, Chad, etc. (Barkan et al. 2004, 2005; Hussain et al. 2005; Middleton 1986a,b; Middleton and Goudie 2001). In this season, the lowest atmospheric layers have very high temperature and relatively low moisture content, which makes the thunderstorms have high bases above the ground on the order of 3–4 km. The ground being dry over long periods, there is plenty of loose and fine dust available. These factors enable the severe thunderstorms of northwest India to generate dust storms. They are usually brief but can block out the sun, drastically reduce visibility, and cause property damage and injuries. Joseph et al. (1980) have done pioneering work on dust storms and the variations in horizontal visibility caused by them, studying 40 cases that occurred at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Studies on the climatology of dust storms and thunderstorms over Pakistan have been carried out by Hussain et al. (2005) and Mir et al. (2006). Their results indicate that extreme eastern and western parts of the northwest frontier of Pakistan, all of Jammu and Kashmir, and the north/northeastern parts of Punjab share about 65% of the total tropical storm (TS) frequency (over Pakistan).

Maritime thunderstorms.

Studies of convective regimes over the northern Indian Ocean adjoining Sri Lanka and the Maldives Islands have been carried out under special field experiments named the Joint Air–Sea Monsoon Interaction Experiment (JASMINE; Webster et al. 2002) and the Mirai Indian Ocean Cruise for the Study of the MJO Onset (MISMO; Yoneyama et al. 2008). While the objective of JASMINE was to understand the physical processes that produce intraseasonal variability in the monsoon, the MISMO observational campaign was conducted to understand atmospheric and oceanic conditions in the central equatorial Indian Ocean when convection in the MJO was initiated. Over southern peninsular India and adjoining regions, the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) observations show that wide convective cores and broad stratiform regions dominate over the deep convective cores (Houze et al. 2007; Romatschke et al. 2010). Further, the diurnal variation shows their occurrences mostly in the late evening. In Sri Lanka, the highest frequencies of thunderstorms occur during the two intermonsoons from March to April and from October to November (Das 2010). The potential for thunderstorms is higher over the western and eastern slopes or foot of the central hills and at minimum toward the northern parts of the country. In Maldives, thunderstorms occur more frequently in the central and northern parts of the country. There are two peak seasons of thunderstorms in this region: one extending from April to June and another from October to December, coinciding with the transitional southwest and northeast monsoon seasons.

Although many studies have been conducted in South Asia to understand the dynamical and thermodynamical structures of severe weather phenomena, they are mostly in the form of case studies and are limited because of the lack of observations. The microphysical processes leading to the development of these severe storms are also not well understood because of the lack of mesoscale observations. Improvement in the prediction of these important weather phenomena is also highly handicapped because of a lack of mesoscale observations in the vertical levels of the troposphere and an insufficient understanding of these phenomena. An unavailability of sophisticated instruments is responsible for an incomplete understanding of the burst of severe storms over South Asia.

There are many issues that need to be addressed on the dynamics and thermodynamics of severe thunderstorms over this part of South Asia. For instance, we need to find out the following: (i) What is the threshold value of CAPE for generation of thunderstorms over the South Asian region? (ii) What are the typical magnitudes of updrafts and downdrafts? (iii) What are the typical structures of hydrometeor profiles inside these thunderstorms? (iv) What is the relationship between thunderstorm behavior and synoptic-scale or mesoscale environment? (v) Which convective environments are conducive to thunderstorm genesis? (vi) What are the factors that distinguish genesis and maintenance of daytime and nocturnal (stable boundary layer) thunderstorms? Other questions that might come from midlatitude storm experience would be the roles of shear, capping, low-level jets (if any), and studies of storm rotation; its impacts on cell motion (if any) and tornadogenesis and whether it is associated with supercells; and the predictability of hail or lightning occurrence. We shall also have to (i) characterize system morphology and evolution of severe thunderstorms, (ii) document conditions leading to occurrence of severe weather, (iii) assess thunderstorm predictability, and (iv) determine what severe weather precursors associated with thunderstorms can be identified by radar and with what lead time. These are some of the issues addressed during the STORM program.

OBJECTIVES OF THE FIELD EXPERIMENT.

The SAARC STORM field experiment has the following objectives under its three phases.

Field experiment phase 1 (2009–16).

Phase 1 has the following focus:

  1. Prepare a well-designed coordinated plan for monitoring the life cycles of nor'westers/severe thunderstorms and their three-dimensional structure over northeastern parts of India (including West Bengal), Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan during the premonsoon season.

  2. Evolve strategies for observational systems of large-scale, synoptic-scale, and mesoscale environments; planetary boundary layer processes; convective dynamics; aerosols; cloud microphysics; and electrification for better understanding of atmospheric processes during different stages of convective development.

  3. Formulate ideas on modeling mesoscale convection over the region and validate available models with the data to be collected during the pilot phase and the main experiment.

  4. Facilitate the participation of universities and other organizations in the region.

Field experiment phase 2 (2012–16).

In the second phase, the focus is on the investigation of deep convective storms as well as the dry convective storms/dust storms (aandhis) that occur in the western parts of India and adjoining Pakistan and Afghanistan region.

Field experiment phase 3 (2013–16).

In the third phase, the aim is to investigate the tropical maritime as well as continental thunderstorms that occur in the southern peninsular India, Sri Lanka, and Maldives area.

Some of the science plans (monitoring life cycles of nor'westers/severe thunderstorms and their three-dimensional structures) to understand the interrelationship among dynamics, cloud microphysics, and electrical properties in the thunderstorm environment are new to the severe weather research. A summary of the field experiments on convection, clouds, and tropical storms conducted around the world is given in Tyagi et al. (2012).

EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN.

Figure 2 illustrates the road map of the SAARC STORM program. The field experiments are conducted during the beginning of April to the end of May in phase 1, during the middle of April to the end of June in phase 2, and during early March to the middle of May in phase 3, coinciding with the onset of deep convection over the three regions. Joint pilot field experiments will be conducted including all three phases in the years 2013–14. The final (main) field experiments of all three phases will be conducted jointly during 2015–16. An extensive mesonetwork of observations with modern instruments/sensors (AWS, GPS sounding system, DWR, wind profilers, etc.) over this region is proposed to be set up to improve the understanding of the physical, dynamical, and thermodynamical characteristics of these thunderstorms. Figure 3 illustrates the distributions of observatories. Table 1 provides a list of equipment being used. The field experiments are being carried out in two stages: pilot phase and main phase. Table 2 provides the list of participating organizations. An operational management committee (OMC) has been set up at New Delhi to provide advisories regarding intensive observation period (IOP), three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). An IOP is defined as the period when a severe weather event (nor'westers, squalls, hail, etc.) is expected to take place and predetermined detailed hourly/3-hourly/6-hourly observations at the surface, upper air, weather radar, satellite, etc., are planned to examine the event more closely. Observations are collected from the following network of stations during the pilot field experiments:

  1. Large-scale meteorological observations covering the whole region are routinely collected with available network and existing observational schedule.

  2. The mesonetwork of synoptic systems (SYNOP) and AWS (Fig. 3).

  3. Upper-air observations from radiosonde/radio wind (RS/RW) stations available in the region. On days of IOP, vertical soundings of the atmosphere are made at 0600, 0900, 1200, and 1500 UTC. Pilot balloon observations are taken in the region of interest.

  4. Wind profilers are proposed to be installed at strategic locations in the region.

  5. The Doppler weather radar at Kolkata (West Bengal), Patna (25°36′ N, 85°7′E; Bihar), Mohanbari (27°27′N, 95°2′E; Assam), and Agartala (23°49′N, 91°16′E; Tripura) is operated at 15-min intervals around the clock on IOP days. Other weather radars of India at Ranchi (23°21′N, 85°20′E; Jharkhand), Bhubaneshwar (20°14′N, 85°50′E; Orrisa), Paradeep (20°18′N, 86°30′E; West Bengal), and Guwahati (26°11′N, 91°44′E; Assam) provide 3-hourly data on a regular basis and hourly in IOPs during thunderstorms.

  6. A mobile Doppler radar is proposed for the main field experiment.

  7. Services of an aircraft with meteorological instrumentation for dropwindsondes and other airborne measurements are proposed for the main experiment.

  8. A research ship is proposed to be located at the head Bay of Bengal during the main experiment. Devices for the measurement of sea surface temperature would also be a part of sensors onboard the ship.

  9. Towers of 30-m height with six levels of instrumentation for air temperature; dewpoint temperature; and u, v, and w components of wind are set up at different locations in the region.

  10. One disdrometer is made available at the location of the Doppler radar and other places of interest.

  11. Measurements of soil moisture and soil temperature are made at some of the mesonet stations for land surface process studies.

  12. For the study of thunderstorm microphysics and electricity, some stations have atmospheric electric sensors. In addition, one station has two storm trackers, one CCN counter, one aerosol sampler (SPMS), and one aerosol particle sensor.

  13. Radiometers for measuring humidity structure of the troposphere at several stations.

Table 1.

List of equipment used in the field experiment.

Table 1.
Table 2.

List of organizations participating in the field experiment.

Table 2.

During the field experiment, IMD and the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) provide 5-day forecasts of the probability of severe nor'wester outbreaks in and around the field experiment area using their global and mesoscale models. The OMC set up at IMD, Delhi, provides weather advisories for deciding the IOP days and conducting the field experiment.

PILOT FIELD EXPERIMENTS AND RESULTS.

Widespread outbreaks of intense thunderstorms occurred on many days affecting India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan during the pilot field experiments of 2006–12. Some of the more prominent among them occurred on 11 May 2009, 14 May 2010, 11 May 2011, 1 May 2012, and 22 March 2013, as shown by the radar images in Fig. 4. The last event was a tornado (Fig. 4e) that killed 22 people, injured 300 others, destroyed 500 houses, affected electric lines, and collapsed a road communication system by breaking down numerous trees in the Brahmanbaria district of Bangladesh around 1130 UTC [1730 local standard time (LST)] 22 March 2013 (source: http://reliefweb.int/report/bangladesh/situation-report-tornado-brahmanbaria-24-mar-2013). Many studies have been carried out using the pilot field experiment datasets (Abhilash et al. 2007, 2008; Das et al. 2009b; Litta and Mohanty 2008; Joseph 2009; Rao 2009; Litta et al. 2012a; Gopalakrishnan et al. 2011; A. Tyagi et al. 2011, 2012; B. Tyagi et al. 2013). For brevity, we illustrate here one case study of 11 May 2009 (Fig. 5), which was also declared as an IOP day for east and northeast India, particularly over sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim, and the northeastern states of India, including Assam. Details of various cases are given in Mohanty et al. (2006, 2007, 2009) and Das et al. (2009a, 2011). The synoptic features, satellite and Doppler radar analysis, and realized weather along with some of the weather charts are described in the following subsections.

Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.

A typical nor'wester observed by (a) Doppler weather radar of Kolkata and (b) cloud imageries with contours of the cloud-top temperature obtained from the Kalpana-1 satellite at 1130 UTC (1700 LST) 11 May 2009, which affected parts of east India and Bangladesh.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

Synoptic features (based on 0000/0300 UTC 11 May 2009 weather charts).

At mean sea level, a trough was established from east Uttar Pradesh to north Tamilnadu across east Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Please see Fig. 1b for the state boundaries of India. Cyclonic circulation occurred in lower levels over Bihar and its neighborhood. The trough from this extended up to the extreme south peninsula across Chattisgarh, Telangana, and Rayalaseema (Andhra Pradesh). Another cyclonic circulation occurred over Arunachal Pradesh and adjoining Assam and Meghalaya. Moisture incursion took place over the area. A trough from Arunachal Pradesh to the northwest Bay of Bengal was also seen in the middle troposphere. Westerly jet maxima were found over the region.

Realized weather.

A squall passed over Agartala at 1830 UTC (0000 LST) from the north with a maximum speed of 28.1 kt (52 km h−1). Another squall passed over Bankura (23°1′N, 87°4′E; West Bengal) at 1019 UTC (1549 LST) from the northwest with a maximum speed of 30.2 kt (56 km h−1). It passed over Alipore (22°30′N, 88°18′E; Kolkata) at 1245 UTC (1815 LST) from the northwest with a maximum speed of 35.1 kt (65 km h−1). Dum Dum (22°35′N, 88°24′E; Kolkata) reported the squall at 1243 UTC (1813 LST) from the northwest with a maximum speed of 46.9 kt (87 km h−1). The Air Force station Barrackpore (22°46′N, 88°22′E; Kolkata) reported the squall at 1240 UTC (1810 LST), with a maximum speed of 50 kt (92.7 km h−1) from the north. The maximum rainfall recorded over the region was 48 mm at Basirhat (22°38′N, 88°52′E; West Bengal). The wind fields at the surface (10 m) and 850-hPa, wind shear between 500 and 850 hPa, vertical velocity, and CAPE along with observed precipitation by TRMM are shown in Figs. 68.

Fig. 6.
Fig. 6.

Vector wind fields at (a) sigma level 2 with shaded wind speed at 10 m above the surface and (b) 850 hPa on 11 May 2009.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

Fig. 7.
Fig. 7.

(a) Wind shear (500–850 hPa) and (b) vertical cross section of the vertical velocity (m s−1) at the location of the storm (91°E).

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

Fig. 8.
Fig. 8.

(a) CAPE (J Kg−1) and (b) TRMM precipitation (mm) accumulated for 24 h.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

Doppler weather radar analysis.

A strong echo developed over Ranchi at 0800 UTC (1330 LST; Fig. 5a), and a few more echoes developed near Dumka (24°16′N, 88°15′E; Jharkhand) and between Krishnanagar (23°13′N, 87°33′E; West Bengal) and Mymensingh (24°51′N, 90°40′E; Bangladesh). These echoes intensified into two squall lines, one with northeast–southwest orientation and another with east–west orientation; merging together by 1130 UTC (1700 LST), these squall lines moved southeast and dissipated over the sea by 1600 UTC (2130 LST).

Kalpana-1 satellite picture analysis.

The Kalpana-1 satellite picture of 1130 UTC (1700 LST) is shown in Fig. 5b. Moderate convection was seen over central Nepal. A cluster of clouds [cloud-top temperature (CTT) = −50°C] moved eastward; expanded into Bangladesh; and merged with convection over Jharkhand, Orissa, and West Bengal (CTT = −70°C). Moving south, it dissipated over the sea after 2330 UTC (0500 LST). Convection persisted over south Orissa and adjoining Andhra Pradesh from 1100 to 1700 UTC (1630 to 2230 LST; minimum CTT = −50°C).

Mesoscale analysis.

The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model (version 3.0) analysis products run at 9-km resolution and 28 vertical levels are shown in Figs. 68. The model was run with the Kain–Fritsch convection scheme, Yonsei University (YSU) boundary layer parameterization, WRF single-moment 6-class microphysics scheme (WSM6) cloud microphysics, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) unified land surface model. Figures 4a and 4b present winds at 10 m and 850 hPa, respectively. Moisture incursion is seen over east India at lower levels with southwesterly flow of 10–15 kt over the coastal area. A cyclonic circulation is seen over West Bengal, adjoining Bihar, and Jharkhand (Fig. 6b). The wind fields indicate mesoscale convergence that extended up to 850 hPa. A significant trough was seen at 200 hPa (Fig. 9a) over north-central India. A belt of strong wind shear (Fig. 6a) was seen extending from Uttaranchal, the southern plains of Nepal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, and northwestern Bangladesh. Many pockets of strong rising motion (Fig. 6b) were seen along 91°E. Regions of high CAPE (Fig. 8a) are seen along the east coast of India and off the coasts of Orissa, West Bengal, and Bangladesh. Such high values of CAPE can occur because of confluence of cold air advection from land and warm moist air from the ocean as seen in Figs. 9a and 6b. The superimposition of cold northwesterly air from the Himalayas at upper levels (Fig. 9a) over the warm moist air from the Bay of Bengal (Fig. 6b) produces very high instability (CAPE > 5000 J kg−1) during the premonsoon season as seen in the skew-T diagrams of Bhubneshwar (CAPE = 8250 J kg−1) and Kolkata (CAPE = 2892 J kg−1) in Figs. 9b and 9c, respectively. All the convective indices of Bhubneshwar [i.e., lifting index = −10.8, severe weather threat (sweat) index = 682.4, and total index = 60.3] indicate very unstable atmosphere and the likelihood of severe thunderstorms with a lifting mechanism. Intense precipitation was observed by TRMM (Fig. 8b) over Uttar Pradesh, eastern Nepal, Orissa, West Bengal, Assam, Bangladesh, and southern parts of Bhutan. The model could not capture the wide-spread rainfall and squalls over east India but has done reasonably well in predicting rainfall over the northeastern states. It shows some fidelity (nearly correct genesis and intensification), but the time of occurrence is still not very good. Detailed model evaluation results based on the pilot data are discussed in Abhilash et al. (2007), Das et al. (2009b), Litta and Mohanty (2008), Litta et al. (2012a), A. Tyagi et al. (2011, (2012), and B. Tyagi et al. (2013).

Fig. 9.
Fig. 9.
Fig. 9.

(a) Vector wind fields at 200 hPa with geopotential contours and skew-T diagrams of (b) Bhubneshwar and (c) Kolkata at 0000 UTC 11 May 2009 obtained from the University of Wyoming website.

Citation: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 95, 4; 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00237.1

COMMON SYNOPTIC FEATURES OBSERVED DURING STORM PILOT PHASES.

Severe weather days.

Weak surface pressure field associated with weak surface and lower atmospheric wind forcing coupled with strong daytime heating makes the atmosphere potentially unstable in the premonsoon months of April and May. On some of the occasions, the thunderstorms are initially local in nature but develop into squall lines and even extend to mesoscale convective system (MCS) by mergers (Tyagi et al. 2012). Some of them last for 1–3 hours. Others can go even up to 8–12 hours. The possible synoptic systems or features that provide the trigger are as follows (Mohanty et al. 2006, 2007; Das et al. 2009a, 2011):

  1. surface or low-level trough in pressure and wind field;

  2. strong southerlies or southwesterly winds 10–20 kt along north Andhra, Orissa, and the Gangetic West Bengal coast and backing to easterlies or southeasterlies over West Bengal and its neighborhood form a cyclonic circulation between the surface and 1.5 km that brings moist air from the Bay of Bengal over the eastern Indian region;

  3. the atmosphere having latent/potential instability that usually is present on most of the days;

  4. a suitably placed trough in the middle and upper atmosphere between 500- and 200-hPa levels in the subtropical westerlies to provide an upperlevel divergent field;

  5. the accelerating subtropical westerly jet stream with appropriate location of entrance and exit regions of the jet maxima (mostly in April and early May); and

  6. wind shear of 40–60 kt between 200 and 850 hPa favoring development of thunderstorms.

Features associated with weak convection.

The following features are associated with weak convection:

  1. weak or no surface and lower-tropospheric trough in the wind field;

  2. dry northwesterly winds prevailing in the lower troposphere over the eastern region; and

  3. coastal winds (up to a height of 1.5 km) along the Orissa and Gangetic West Bengal coasts that are northwesterly or weak southwesterly.

SUMMARY AND RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES.

The SAARC STORM is a coordinated effort on understanding severe thunderstorms through observations and regional modeling by eight South Asian countries. It is a multiyear exercise being conducted in three phases (2009–16) using different observational networks (surface, upper-air, satellite, radar, and mobile platforms). The program will investigate the severe storms like nor'westers (which form over the eastern and northeastern parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan in the first phase), the dry convective storms/dust storms and deep convection (which occur in the western parts of India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in the second phase), and the maritime and continental thunderstorms (which occur over southern parts of India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in the third phase). Thus, overall the SAARC STORM program will collect massive observations to investigate the life cycle of the storms and utilize them for modeling and forecasting including nowcasting of severe convective weather in the premonsoon season over South Asia. The results based on the pilot experiments conducted so far (which are described in many papers; e.g., Abhilash et al. 2007, 2008; Das et al. 2009b; Litta and Mohanty 2008; Joseph 2009; Rao 2009; Litta et al. 2012a; Gopalakrishnan et al. 2011; A. Tyagi et al. 2011, 2012; B. Tyagi et al. 2013) are summarized below.

The cloud tops usually reached 10–12 km, but in some cases they penetrate the tropopause and even reach 18-km height. The squall lines were usually 150–250 km in length and occasionally more than 300 km in length. The average speed of movement of the squall lines is about 50–60 km h−1. The lifetime of intense squall lines was about 8–10 h. The majority of squalls were from the northwesterly direction. Dominance of northwesterly squalls is observed in this pilot phase, which is a well-noted feature. As found in the previous experiments, more than 85% of the squalls are of moderate intensity with wind speed less than or equal to 40 kt. About 12% of the total numbers were intense ones with wind speed greater than 40 kt. The intense squalls recorded wind speed up to 111.2 and 102 km h−1 over Barrackpore and Agartala, respectively. Most squalls occurred during 1230–1830 UTC (1800–0000 LST). More than 80% of the squalls occurred after 0630 UTC (1200 LST), which indicates that the atmospheric conditions are favorable for the occurrence of squalls after 0630 UTC (1200 LST), which is a well-known feature. The cloud-top temperatures varied between −40° and −70°C, and temperatures as low as −80°C have also been observed. The preferred tracks of convection were from northwest to southeast and from west to east. Squall lines forming over Bangladesh and Jharkhand moved and merged over West Bengal, which was a feature observed on severe weather days over east India. Studies show that the assimilation of radar data in the model is crucial for improving the thunderstorm forecast. Use of combined satellite and radar data along with modeling could help in nowcasting and forecasting. Results obtained so far indicate that the mesoscale models provide a promising tool for forecasting genesis and intensification for nearly 50% of the cases based on existing observatories. More dense observational networks with upper-air soundings in the region of genesis are required to increase the forecasting skill.

Severe thunderstorms are among the major high-impact weather phenomena that cause maximum impact on the human lives. Improving the skills of forecasting these phenomena is a challenge. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is leading a major campaign called the Severe Weather Forecast Demonstration Project (SWFDP) in different parts of the globe. The SAARC STORM program will complement the WMO SWFDP.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

At the outset, the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India is acknowledged for initiating the STORM program in 2005. Subsequently, the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the government of India took over the program in 2008. The program was expanded to cover the whole SAARC region in phases under the coordination of SAARC Meteorological Research Centre (SMRC), Dhaka.

We express our gratitude to the members of the governing board of SMRC and the SAARC program committee for approving the program. The approval of the government of India for providing additional AWS, GPS sounding systems, and Doppler Weather Radar for installations in the data-sparse regions in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan are gratefully acknowledged. The members of the IPC are acknowledged for steering and guiding the program.

REFERENCES

  • Abhilash, S., and Coauthors, 2007: Assimilation of Doppler weather radar observations in a mesoscale model for the prediction of intense rainfall events associated with mesoscale convective systems using 3DVAR. J. Earth Syst. Sci., 116, 275304.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Abhilash, S., K. Mohankumar, and S. Das, 2008: Simulation of microphysical structure associated with tropical cloud clusters using mesoscale model and comparison with TRMM observations. Int. J. Remote Sens., 29, 24112432.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alvi, S. M. A., and K. G. Punjabi, 1966: Diurnal and seasonal variations of squalls in India. Indian J. Meteor. Geophys., 7, 206216.

  • Asnani G. C., 1985: Tornadoes–A review. Vayu Mandal, 97133.

  • Barkan, J., H. Kutiel, and P. Alpert, 2004: Climatology of dust sources in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, based on TOMS data. Indoor Built Environ., 13, 407419.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barkan, J., P. Alpert, H. Kutiel, and P. Kishcha, 2005: Synoptics of dust transportation days from Africa towards Italy and central Europe. J. Geophys. Res., 110, D07208, doi:10.1029/2004JD005222.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bhattacharya, P. K., and S. K. Banerjee, 1980: Premonsoon tornadoes over West Bengal during April 1977. Vayu Mandal, 10, 1418.

  • Chaudhury, A., and A. K. Banerjee, 1983: A study of hailstorms over northeast India. Vayu Mandal, 13, 9195.

  • Das, S., 2010: Climatology of thunderstorms over the SAARC region. SMRC Rep. 35, 75 pp. [Available from SAARC Meteorological Research Centre E-4/C, Agargaon, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Das, S., and Coauthors, 2009a: SAARC STORM pilot field experiment 2009. SMRC Rep. 32, 72 pp. [Available from SAARC Meteorological Research Centre E-4/C, Agargaon, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Das, S., B. R. S. B. Basnayake, M. K. Das, M. A. R. Akand, M. M. Rahman, M. A. Sarker, and M. N. Islam, 2009b: Composite characteristics of nor'westers observed by TRMM and simulated by WRF model. SMRC Rep. 25, 44 pp. lsqb;Available from SAARC Meteorological Research Centre, E-4/C, Agargaon, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Das, S., and Coauthors, 2011: SAARC STORM pilot field experiment 2010. SMRC No. 40, 72 pp. [Available from SAARC Meteorological Research Centre E-4/C, Agargaon, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • De, U. S., R. K. Dube, and G. S. Prakasa Rao, 2005: Extreme weather events over India in the last 100 years. J. Indian Geophys. Union, 9, 173187.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Eliot, J., 1899: Hailstorm in India during the period 1883–1897 with a discussion on their distribution. Indian Meteor. Mem., 6, 237315.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Goldar, R. N., S. K. Banerjee, and G. C. Debnath, 2001: Tornado in India and neighborhood. India Meteorological Department Calcutta Regional Meteorological Centre Scientific Rep. 2/2001, 27 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gopalakrishnan, V., S. D. Pawar, P. Murugavel, and K. P. Johare, 2011: Electrical characteristics of thunderstorms in the eastern part of India. J. Atmos. Sol.-Terr. Phys., 73, 18761882, doi:10.1016/j.jastp.2011.04.022.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Gupta, H. N., and S. K. Ghosh, 1980: North Delhi tornado of 17 March 1978. Mausam, 31, 93100.

  • Houze, R. A., Jr., D. C. Wilton, and B. F. Smull, 2007: Monsoon convection in the Himalayan region as seen by the TRMM Precipitation Radar. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 133, 13891411.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hussain, A., H. Mir, and M. Afzal, 2005: Analysis of dust storms frequency over Pakistan during 1961–2000. Pak. J. Meteor., 2, 4968.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • IMD, 1944: Nor'wester of Bengal. India Meteorological Department Tech. Note 10. 17 pp.

  • Joseph, P. V., 2009: Local severe storms. Mausam, 60, 139154.

  • Joseph, P. V., D. K. Raipal, and S. N. Deka, 1980: ANDHI, the convective dust storm of northwest India. Mausam, 31, 431442.

  • Koteswaram, P., and V. Srinivasan, 1958: Thunderstorm over Gangetic West Bengal in the pre-monsoon season and the synoptic factors favourable for their formation. Indian J. Meteor. Geophys., 9, 301312.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Krishna Rao, P. R., 1966: Thunderstorm studies in India—A review. Indian J. Meteor. Geophys., 12, 313.

  • Litta, A. J., and U. C. Mohanty, 2008: Simulation of a severe thunderstorm event during the STORM field experiment of 2006 using WRF-NMM model. Curr. Sci., 95, 204215.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Litta, A. J., U. C. Mohanty, and S. C. Bhan, 2010: Numerical simulation of tornado over Ludhiana (India) using WRF NMM model. Meteor. Appl., 17, 6475.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Litta, A. J., U. C. Mohanty, S. C. Bhan, and M. Mohapatra, 2011: Simulation of tornadoes over India using WRF-NMM model. Challenges and Opportunities in Agrometeorology, S. D. Attri et al., Eds., Springer, 173187.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Litta, A. J., U. C. Mohanty, S. Das, and S. M. Idicula, 2012a: Numerical simulation of severe local storms over east India using WRF-NMM mesoscale model. Atmos. Res., 116, 161184.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Litta, A. J., U. C. Mohanty, S. K. Prasad, M. Mohapatra, A. Tyagi, and S. C. Sahu, 2012b: Simulation of a tornado over Orissa (India) on 31 March 2009 using WRF-NMM model. Nat. Hazards, 61, 12191242.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mandal, G. S., and S. K. Saha, 1983: Characteristics of some recent north Indian tornadoes. Vayu Mandal, 13, 7480.

  • Middleton, N. J., 1986a: Dust storms in the Middle East. J. Arid Environ., 10, 8396.

  • Middleton, N. J., 1986b: A geography of dust storms in south-west Asia. J. Climatol., 6, 183196.

  • Middleton, N. J., and A. S. Goudie, 2001: Saharan dust: Sources and trajectories. Trans. Inst. Br. Geogr., 26, 165181.

  • Mir, H., A. Hussain, and Z. A. Babar, 2006: Analysis of thunderstorms activity over Pakistan during (1961–2000). Pak. J. Meteor., 3, 1332.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mohanty, U. C., and Coauthors, 2006: Weather summary during pilot experiment of Severe Thunderstorms Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) programme. India Department of Science and Technology Rep., 177 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mohanty, U. C., and Coauthors, 2007: Weather summary during pilot experiment of Severe Thunderstorms Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) programme. India Department of Science and Technology Rep., 179 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mohanty, U. C., and Coauthors, 2009: Weather summary during pilot experiment of Severe Thunderstorms Observations and Regional Modeling (STORM) programme. India Department of Science and Technology Rep., 158 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nizamuddin, S., 1993: Hail occurrences in India. Weather, 48, 9092.

  • Raman, P. K., and K. Raghavan, 1961: Diurnal variations of thunderstorms in India during different seasons. Indian J. Meteor. Geophys., 12, 115130.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rao, K. N., C. E. J. Daniel, and L. V. Balasubramanian, 1971: Thunderstorms over India. India Meteorological Department Scientific Rep. 153, 21 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rao, P. S., 2009: Field experimental studies on land-ocean-atmosphere interactions over the Indian region during 1999–2009. Mausam, 60, 239252.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Romatschke, U., S. Medina, and R. A. Houze Jr., 2010: Regional, seasonal, and diurnal variations of extreme convection in the South Asian region. J. Climate, 23, 419439.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Srinivasan, V., K. Ramamurthy, and Y. R. Nene, 1973: Summer nor'wester and Andhi and large scale convective activity over peninsula and central parts of the country. India Meteorological Department Forecasting Manual Part 3, 137 pp.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • STORM, 2005: STORM science plan. India Department of Science and Technology Rep., 118 pp. [Available online at www.imd.gov.in/SciencePlanofFDPs/STORM%20Science%20Plan.pdf.]

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tyagi, A., 2007: Thunderstorm climatology over Indian region. Mausam, 58, 189212.

  • Tyagi, A., D. R. Sikka, S. Goyal, and M. Bhowmick, 2012: A satellite based study of pre-monsoon thunderstorms (nor'westers) over eastern India and their organization into mesoscale convective complexes. Mausam, 63, 2954.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tyagi, B., V. Naresh Krishna, and A. N. V. Satyanarayana, 2011: Study of thermodynamic indices for forecasting pre-monsoon thunderstorms over Kolkata during STORM pilot phase 2006–2008. Nat. Hazards, 56, 681698, doi:10.1007/s11069-010-9582-x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tyagi, B., A. N. V. Satyanarayana, and V. Naresh Krishna, 2013 Thermodynamical structure of atmosphere during pre-monsoon thunderstorm season over Kharagpur as revealed by STORM data. Pure Appl. Geophys., 170, 675687, doi:10.1007/s00024-012-0566-5.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Webster, P. J., and Coauthors, 2002: The JASMINE pilot study. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 83, 16031630.

  • Yamane, Y., T. Hayashi, A. M. Dewan, and F. Akter, 2009a: Severe local convective storms in Bangladesh: Part I. Climatology. J. Atmos. Res., 95, 400406, doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2009.11.004.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yamane, Y., T. Hayashi, A. M. Dewan, and F. Akter, 2009b: Severe local convective storms in Bangladesh: Part II. Environmental conditions. J. Atmos. Res., 95, 407418, doi:10.1016/j.atmosres.2009.11.003.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Yoneyama, K., and Coauthors, 2008: MISMO field experiment in the equatorial Indian Ocean. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 89, 18891903.

Save