Steni Simon/ Bengaluru/ July 10
Every time it rains or there’s a storm coming, Pradeep John, a senior manager at Tamil Nadu Urban Infrastructure Financial Services Limited (TNUIFSL) dons the hat of a weather blogger. One week back, the twitter page of Pradeep John read, “The biggest event of the monsoon for Kerala and Cauvery catchment, Avalanche-Mukurthy-Upper Bhavani, Pandalur-Gudalur Valparai, Kanyakumari is going to unfold from July 3-9. Avoid travel to ghat areas of Valparai, Wayanad, Idukki, Kodagu, Gundalur, parts of nilgiris in this period.” Pradeep’s timely weather update helped many to avoid their travel plans to these areas.
Pradeep, popularly known as the Tamil Nadu Weatherman is one among the many amateur weather blogging community, which has been growing in South India over the years. Apart from posting the daily rain updates, these bloggers help in predicting weather patterns and forecast rains in places where even IMD fails to predict sometimes. As monsoon rain wreaks havoc across South India, especially in Kerala and Karnataka, along with the Indian Meteorological department (IMD), these weather bloggers are also actively updating the people with clear explanations of the weather updates on Facebook and Twitter.
For many bloggers, weather means much more to them than mere predictions. And Pradeep is one such weather blogger who has been giving regular rainfall updates for many years. “In 2008, there were only two weather bloggers- Rajesh Kapadia and R Rakesh who used to predict and give weather updates on Chennai weather through their blog websites such as ‘Vagaries of the Weather And ‘Indian Weatherman’. Slowly the blogging community in Chennai also grew with KEA Weather where bloggers covered rains, heat waves, clouds and even cyclones. I used to follow these bloggers and was soon hooked into it. In 2009, I launched my own blog Tamil Nadu Weatherman where I began documenting rainfall for each day of the year,” shares Pradeep, who has more than 8 lakh followers on Facebook.
Pradeep also loves collecting historical data on rainfall, lake levels and temperature and he says, “There are various models which can be studied to predict these things. For instance, heavy rainfall which is being witnessed in Kerala, factors like the intensity of rainfall, the wind pattern, all these can be predicted once you understand the climatology of the place.” While compiling data from a state, Pradeep takes utmost care not to miss not even one weather station.
Like Pradeep, there are several self-taught independent weathermen which include IT employees, marketing professionals and even students who have been helping people with their forecasts. Ravi Gowda, an electrical engineer by profession who has been pursuing weather blogging as a hobby for over ten years says that it is not always necessary that your weather predictions will always come true but you shouldn’t lose hope. “We look at various weather models from international organisations like ECMWF and get the prediction on the weather forecast for one week. For instance, if we take Karnataka, for the next one-week, heavy rains will be witnessed in coastal areas and the western ghats of Karnataka,” shares Ravi, who loves tracking the water levels of reservoirs during the rains. He gives live updates for Kodagu, Mysuru and Bengaluru regions.
Monsoons are the busiest for 26-year-old weather blogger Varun Raghav who studies southwest monsoon. “I do forecasts of Kerala and coastal Karnataka. These regions receive rainfall especially from June to September. Unlike Kerala, tracking Karnataka weather is a bit tricky because they don’t have a doppler,” shares Varun, who is an IT professional. He says that to be a good forecaster, one should always get the basics right and also carefully study the data, rainfall and wind patterns.