This bunch has been busy updating their Twitter and Facebook handles for the past few weeks. Meet the bloggers of Chennai who have become active on social media just to provide constant weather updates.
Pradeep John, a 33-year-old blogger who has been running his Facebook page Tamil Nadu Weatherman for the past two years claims to have never seen so much traffic on his page before. Talking to TNM he says, “People keep asking about the weather: whether it will rain today or will there will be heavy rains or not.”
Earlier his Facebook posts reached about 1000 to 2000 people but for the past one month he says it reaches about 50,000 to 1 lakh people everyday.
He updates his weather status every three to four hours. He says, “I use the numerical models which are Global Forecasting System and European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, use their information and interpret the weather in the city. Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) also uses the same model to interpret the weather.”
It was Pradeep John’s passion that has led him to provide weather reports. He said, “When I was seven-years-old in 1994, there was a cyclone in Chennai and a complete power-outage and I still remember the howling sound of the cyclone passing. From that day on, I have been collecting satellite images.”
Later, with the dawn of the internet, he started blogging for KeaWeather and also now has his own blog. Facebook according to him is the fastest way to share weather reports.
Pradeep's job consists of not just providing weather information, but also to eliminate baseless rumours that keep doing the rounds. He says, “I constantly get messages asking if this or that rumour is true or not. In Tamil Nadu, rumours are usually about cyclones. I have to keep checking.”
According to Pradeep, people do not even know the difference between low pressure area and cyclone, so whenever he gets time he puts up posts explaining the difference.
In the past one month of rains, people have become very dependent on his daily updates. He quips, “If I do not put updates on a particular day, my inbox will be flooded with messages asking me to put at least two posts a day. There is also a bonding that happens over time. One day when it was heavily raining, I even got messages from people asking if I had safely reached home.”
There’s another blog Chennai Rains which was created last year and has been providing information about the weather repeatedly on Twitter.
“We use readily available information provided by the India Meteorological Department and break down the information to make it more accessible to the common man said. Using wind patterns and radar feeds, we were able to warn people about thunderstorms and rain approaching the city," Srikanth, 40, based out of Hyderabad told Scroll.
During monsoon, the Chennai Rains team provided information 24x7, most of it crowd-sourced. Chennaites sent them photos, videos and warnings which they updated on their pages.
They retweet all the posts related to the Chennai rains, while eliminating all kinds of rumours that surface on rainy days.
Most of these bloggers hold full-time jobs but they still spare some time to help the public out.