Heavy rainfalls occurred in many places till last week owing to an active monsoon over Bangladesh, leading to massive flooding in the northeast and some northern and central parts of the country.
Amid the bad weather conditions, at least 9 people were killed and some others injured in lightning strikes in different places on 17 June.
Students, farmers and boat passengers were among the dead.
Were they aware of the 15 June weather forecast issued by Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD)? Perhaps, not.
The forecast in English read that heavy to very heavy rainfall with intense lightning flashes were likely to occur at places. The message surely did not reach the potential receivers.
Since March this year, the Met office has been issuing warnings about extreme weather events. Surprisingly enough, the precise weather forecast only proves that the state-run agency has gained more efficiencies with access to the most advanced weather prediction technology.
BMD Director Md Azizur Rahman recently told The Business Standard that the meteorological department is now equipped by the High-Impact Weather Assessment Toolkit (HIWAT) that integrates data from NASA's earth-observing satellites with the Met office's local observations in order to improve weather forecasts.
"Indeed, HIWAT has increased BMD's efficiency," Azizur said.
The HIWAT uses a mesoscale numerical weather prediction model and the Global Precipitation Measurement constellation of satellites to assess high impact convective weather events.
The toolkit provides a 54-hour probabilistic forecast for lightning strikes, high impact winds, high rainfall rates, hail, and other weather events.
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre developed HIWAT as part of the NASA SERVIR Applied Sciences Team project while International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development's SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya Initiative, NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office, NASA MSFC, and Brigham Young University further customise HIWAT, according to SERVIR website.
SERVIR is a joint programme of NASA and the US Agency for International Development.
With NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement data and other sources, HIWAT gives Bangladesh Met department's meteorologists a more thorough and detailed pool of data.
Here a question lies whether grassroots people, the ultimate victims of extreme weather events, are accessing the data or not.
BMD Director Azizur said no. "Communication gap, i.e lack of skills in weather warning interpretation, hinders data dissemination among the message receivers," he noted.
"From this month [June], the BMD has been conducting awareness-building seminars across divisional headquarters and districts to engage people, particularly the disaster managers at grassroots, with this early warning system," Azizur said.
Dhaka University's Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies teacher Professor Khondoker Mokaddem Hossain urged the policymakers to incorporate HIWAT data into making decisions to protect life.
He cited that the cyclone early warning system has been developed that provides prediction within shortest possible time [3 days]. People get the warning in Bangla short messages and can take necessary preparation.
"Like this, people should have access to understandable early warnings of other extreme weather events," Mokaddem said.
He recommended that non-government as well as voluntary organisations responding to natural disasters come forward in translating the weather data for the people.