Truly a shot in the dark?

Gone are the days when students would get glued to the television during rainy days awaiting renowned ‘rain man’ Ramanan, Director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre, to forecast rains to get a school holiday. These days, the weather predictions are hardly accurate with rain predictions resulting in sunny days and vice versa.

These frequent goof ups by the MET department has caused widespread confusion among people, especially the farmers and fishermen, to plan their days.

Nanditha Krishna, a Chennai based environmentalist and writer, says that advanced equipments can improve the accuracy of weather forecasting. “The people in the city, especially the fishermen and farmers are the ones who depend largely on the predictions for weather as their livelihood depends on it. There should be accurate predictions so that necessary steps are taken in advance. For example, if a drought is expected, it should be predicted much ahead so that the Government can plan and take steps accordingly. We should have the best equipment to do help us detect the correct weather forecast,” she says.

Tamil Nadu Weatherman, Pradeep John, has gained popularity among the masses for his fairly accurate updates in recent times. This famous weather blogger updates his predictions based on what he calls as a probability. “This is all about probability. There are different models for prediction of rainfall like IMD, USA, European and German. There would be slightly different from each other so prediction is solely is based on probability. For example, if the German and European models show that Chennai has chances for rain in the next 24 hours whereas the models of IMD and USA can contradict each other, the prediction from the models plays 50% and your intuition plays another 50%”. He also added that a criterion called ensemble plays an important role. “For the next five days it might show rains, but suddenly at the end of two days, this might change. Heavy rain predictions and red alerts can be easily predicted by comparing the models”.

S. Bharathidasan, an environmentalist and wildlife conservationist, feels all predictions cannot be made scientifically but we can come fairly close to them. “Weather reports have become restricted information. If you want the weather report for the last 10 years, you have to pay for the data. If it is openly available, the common people can analyse these reports and engage in some decent weather predictions”.

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