It’s raining weathermen in Chennai

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on November 01, 2018 Published on November 01, 2018

The weather enthusiasts gained prominence after the unprecedented rains that lashed Chennai in December 2017. Their predictions at the time were mostly accurate .   -  Getty Images/iStockphoto

Weather enthusiasts in the city are taking social media by storm with their updates

With the North-East monsoon arriving in Tamil Nadu, J Sriram, a marketing executive, does not step out of his house without checking for weather updates on Twitter and Facebook. He tracks not just the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) but also a handful of weather enthusiasts who are all the rage on social media with their frequent weather updates.

Amateurs such as the 35-year-old Pradeep John, also known as ‘Tamil Nadu Weatherman,’ have gained cult status in social media weather updates. This self-confessed pluviophile (lover of rain) has 2.37 lakh followers on Twitter as against 22,400 for IMD’s official handle.

The weather enthusiasts gained prominence after the unprecedented rains that lashed Chennai in December 2017. Their predictions at the time were mostly accurate. Not surprising, there are over a dozen of them now, just in Tamil Nadu.

“IMD has all the data but it gives forecasts on a need basis when there is a cyclone or storm. Amateur forecasters, in contrast, issue update frequently," says Sriram.

Eye on the sky

These enthusiasts constantly keep a vigil on the sky and on their monitors, analysing weather data and patterns to update social media, be it on Facebook or Twitter.

“I am amazed at the sheer number of better and knowledgeable people from Tamil Nadu tracking weather. I have not come across as many from anywhere else,” said an expert with decades of experience analysing weather patterns.

ChennaiRains, an independent weather blog with nearly 94,000 followers on Twitter, is an amateur weather information provider for Chennai and southern India. “Please follow IMD for all official weather forecasts,” the Twitter handle says.

Similarly, ChennaiWeather, followed by nearly 80,000 on Twitter was started by Raja, a weather enthusiast. This private blogger says he is not an official weather forecaster. “Will try to provide accurate information as much as possible,” says his Twitter handle.

WeatherChennai, Chennai Weather Live and Weather of South India are other popular Twitter handles. A tweet from any of these handles is not just liked but re-tweeted by thousands of followers within few minutes.

S Balachandran, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre of the Regional Meteorological Centre, says there is a lot of interest in weather enthusiasts who keep updating social media frequently. Nobody can stop them.

However, the major concern is on accuracy and accountability of information.

“If the IMD gives a forecast and if that does not happen for any reason, we are questioned on the authenticity. However, nobody questions these amateurs if their predictions doesn’t materialise. And, at times, conveniently they delete messages in social media if the information they gave was wrong. But, we cannot do that,” Balachandran told BusinessLine.

To their credit, the amateur weather forecasters have often got their forecasts right, and that has only served to enhance their popularity and credibility.

Published on November 01, 2018
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