Last year the government had declared lightning strikes as natural disasters after 142 were killed by July.
This year the Meteorological Department has urged caution ahead of thunderstorm season.
According to meteorologists, northwesters leading to lightning and thunderstorms have begun hitting Bangladesh since mid-February.
The northern and central regions of the country have experienced 1-2 days of medium to heavy northwesters or thunderstorms and other regions have experienced 2-3 light to medium northwesters and thunderstorms thus far.
Forecasts indicate the north, north-east and central regions of the country may experience 3-4 days of medium to heavy northwesters and thunderstorms and light to medium northwesters and thunderstorms in April.
The implementation of instant forecasts (nowcasting) and extensive public awareness campaigns can reduce the number of casualties, say experts.
In addition to the public awareness campaigns and promotion of weather reports, 1 million palm trees are to be planted across the country by the Department of Disaster Management in order to reduce damage from lightning.
Department Senior Meteorologist Sanaul Haque Khan says that while correct forecasting is the responsibility of the department, it is up to other government agencies to implement necessary measures.
“It is possible to forecast the direction and possible location of lightning strikes within 30-45 minutes of a dangerous cloud's formation,” he said. “Four daily forecasts are available to ports as well.”
Various weather forecasting offices around Bangladesh are outfitted with high-tech and Doppler radars. By forecasting weather 24 hours in advance, this technology has helped airports, necessary government departments and agencies.
“We are now offering nowcasting for brief periods. These forecasts can give more accurate location of strikes within 24 hours.”
“But simply making the forecasts is not enough, government agencies and the media have to spread the word,” said Sanaul.
The department has the technological capability necessary to identify threat-prone areas more accurately, says Bangladesh Engineering University IWFM research fellow and former member of the now-defunct SAARC Meteorological Research Centre scientist Mohon Kumar Das.
“It is now possible to forecast conditions in districts, Upazilas and now even villages,” he said. “The Haor area has a higher incidence of lightning strikes and thunderstorms. We must take initiatives to raise public awareness of the danger in these areas.”
Last year 81 people had been killed by lightning strikes in two days in May. About two hundred to three hundred people are killed each year by lightning strikes in Bangladesh.
Thunderstorms are more prevalent during northwester season, former director of the now-defunct SAARC Meteorological Research Centre Sujit Kumar Debsharma told bdnews24.com.
“Thunderstorms occur when cumulonimbus clouds form,” he said. “Cumulonimbus clouds are dense, towering vertical clouds which not only cause lightning, but lightning bolts, hail, gales, storm winds and can even create tornadoes.
Cumulonimbus clouds are associated with thunderstorms and atmospheric instability, forming from water vapour carried by powerful upward air currents.