How reliable is the independent weatherman? | Gurgaon News

the cold wave in North India was the talk of the town all month. Regular updates from weather bloggers on social media reinforced these discussions.
A cold spell forecast that made waves came from Navdeep Dahiya, a 22-year-old Gurugram resident who works with a food aggregator and poses as a professional weather geek to his 11,000 followers on Twitter.
On January 11, Dahiya predicted that temperatures on the plains of northern India would fall to as low as -4 degrees Celsius. A severe cold spell came, although not quite as freezing cold according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) readings of the weather.
Dahiya, who runs Live Weather of India accounts on Facebook and Twitter, lists his occupation online as “scientist.” Studying the weather as a hobby, he told TOI, began in 2015 when he started blogging from his home in Rohtak. Today Dahiya installed sensors like a rain gauge and digital thermometers on the terrace of his house in Gurugram. He works with his longtime friend Shubham, 27, who is also a physics grad like him, to spread information. “I collect data and Navdeep works on the forecasts,” says Shubham.
The opinion of the weather observers
Dahiya’s day job is also related to weather forecasting, but there are several other independent weathermen on social media who will tell you about rain and shine because it’s a hobby that includes not only cold waves but also cloud patterns, humidity levels, wind direction and more follows. Many of them have a dedicated following that constantly throws weather questions at them – will visibility be low? Could flights be cancelled? Will the harvest be affected? How long will the rain/cold wave last? will it snow
Sai Praneeth B (26), senior engineer at Bosch in Bengaluru, regularly posts weather information for his home state of Andhra Pradesh. He writes in Telugu to reach his audience and his popularity is evident. His name @APWeatherman96 has over 63,000 followers. In 2021, Praneeth received a mention on the Prime Minister’s radio show Mann ki Baat.
“In July of this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned me in his husband Ki Baat when I was helping farmers get weather forecasts…For me, forecasting the weather is a way of giving back to society,” he says.
Faizan Arif (22) is a senior in physics at a university in Lucknow. As a child, he kept asking his grandfather about the next snowfall at home in Kashmir. He now observes cloud movements and other parameters to predict them and posts them on @Kashmir_Weather (24,000 followers).
An even younger forecaster is T Balaji, an 18-year-old engineering student known as the “Telangana Weatherman” to his 33,000 followers on Twitter. Balaji’s “Nowcasting” is all about real-time updates. He posts every hour.
There are those who are not from science at all. 48-year-old Srikanth K, Marketing Manager, grew up in the tiny village of Villupuram, 40km from Puducherry. “Rain ruled our lives, so I started studying precipitation patterns,” he says. Srikanth wakes up at 4.30am every morning to scan weather models and post his prints to @ChennaiRains which has 1.4 lakh followers.
Dahiya believes an enthusiast needs three things: “Observation, data analysis, and forecasting.” He adds a warning: “It can take years to gain experience and accurately predict weather events.”
Independent forecasters collect data from IMD’s automatic or manual weather stations and other sources for their forecasts. Some of them, like Praneeth, collect some data from their own weather instruments. Praneeth’s “weather station” is installed in his hometown of Tirupati. Every day at 5 a.m., the station feeds data into his mobile phone, after which he scans radar data from IMD and satellite data from international agencies to publish his forecast on Twitter. “I post updates early in the morning because people need to know how to move forward with their day,” he says, adding that he uses artificial intelligence to simplify some of the information sets.
Similarly, Srikanth has two “weather stations” – in Villupuram and at his home in Chennai. Arif, on the other hand, relies on the Global Forecast System from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in Maryland (USA) to “observe the movement of clouds over the Pacific Ocean”. These, he says, affect Kashmir’s weather.
…and the opinion of the official weatherman
How reliable are these on-the-go forecasts? Meteorologists at IMD say there are several limitations an independent weatherman would face. One would be the data accuracy of its instruments, which IMD would know but the independent weathermen don’t. For example, on Jan. 17, IMD’s automated weather station at Ujwa in Delhi recorded sub-zero temperatures, which Dahiya also mentioned in one of his cold-wave tweets. The IMD later clarified that the reading was incorrect. Similarly, the Gwalpahari station in Gurugram had a reading below zero (-0.1 degrees C) on the same day.
A city’s weather, experts explain, is not read that way, and several other factors are taken into account. Station accuracy is one thing, placement is another. For example, the location of the Gwalpahari station is in the Aravalis, which would be warmer in summer and colder in winter. The lowest official minimum temperature in the region, recorded at the Safdarjung base station in Delhi, was 1.4 degrees C on January 16.
Weather is a complicated science that requires not only the right mathematical models, but also the right equipment, standardized calibrations, data sets and deep insights derived from experience and expertise. In addition, the official weatherman is responsible.
“The IMD has a sophisticated array of equipment, including around 800 automated weather stations across the country. The weather is an unpredictable science. People should rely on the experts… However, as an institution, the stakes are much higher for us – the bloggers have nothing to lose,” says Manmohan Singh, Director of IMD Chandigarh.
“It is dangerous to predict the weather without sharing the source of the information,” M Mohapatra, director general of IMD, told TOI on Saturday, adding, “But enthusiasts who follow IMD and share our forecasts on social media are not harmful. I believe these bloggers can work with IMD and we can create a powerful platform for the whole country to help farmers and the common man from natural disasters. I agree that IMD still has room for improvement when it comes to explaining weather updates to the masses. Now , we are active on Twitter and Facebook. We used to not have a social media presence. All of our 29 centers now have social media pages and they update information in a timely manner. We hope to keep improving.”
KJ Ramesh, a former IMD general manager, says the Met’s official forecasts remain by far the most reliable source of information about the weather. “There are many models. Each model has its own strengths and limitations, and one should have a thorough understanding of the model’s results before making one’s assessment public. One should be able to justify why they rated a certain way. When someone incorrectly predicts extreme weather conditions, it can have a significant impact on the well-being of human life. So rely on IMD predictions as they are responsible for that,” he says.