Weather bloggers love cyclones, for obvious reasons. There is a lot of prediction to be done, and data to analyse. This North-East monsoon, weather bloggers in Chennai are on their feet, and some of them have got started on analysing localised data of “rainfall actuals”.
Weather blogger K. Srikanth, who runs Chennairains, has a rain gauge at Anna Nagar and it has collected 500 mm since the start of the North-East monsoon.
“My friend in Medavakkam has recorded an actual rainfall of 1890 mm. The entire city might not be receiving rains the same time, and we thought it made sense to track the rainfall in different neighbourhoods and get the average for the city,” says Srikanth, who started recording for Anna Nagar this year.
There are eight bloggers listed under ‘Bloggers Rainfall Data’ representing areas like Saidapet, Kovilambakkam, OMR, Thirumullaivayol and Porur helping Chennairains compare patterns across some neighbourhoods.
Along the coast, at Neelankarai, V.V. Prasad — simply “V.V.” in weather-blogging circles — has been getting data from his manual rain gauge that comes with a metered container and a temperature measuring device.
“In manual rain gauges, you have to keep emptying the water,” says V.V. who works as an archivist.
Isn’t it a lot of work?
“Yes, but it’s interesting work. Sometimes, before going to work I empty it; the device can only collect 120 mm,” says V.V., adding that Neelankarai has received an actual rainfall of 353 mm for November.
In Central Chennai, Ameen Bijli is a bit on the unhappy side, his discontent coming from the fact that his area received only 839 mm.
“The normal rainfall is 1400 mm,” says the commerce student of New College. He has been tracking rainfall patterns since he was a student of class XI.
“My automatic weather station records temperature, humidity, wind speed, the rate of rainfall and wind direction. Often, I have neighbours coming to find out from me if they could plan an outing,” says Ameen, who is the go-to person for many people in the locality, so much so that he is known as the ‘Weather man of George Town’.
For all these weather bloggers, identifying weather patterns and trends for the neighbourhood serves multiple purposes.
It serves as a conversation point among neighbours and satisfy their curiosity about the environment around them. However, the primary purpose is to know where their neighbourhood stands on the rain meter.
Citing an example from Anna Nagar, Srikanth says the area has received below-normal rainfall.
“Metro Water could increase the water supply to the area,” says Srikanth, who is a food entrepreneur.
V.V. says Perumbakkam has crossed the annual average which is phenomenal.
“Such data can be used by government authorities to measure effectiveness of various rainwater-harvesting measures and build resources around the lessons learnt,” he says.
Most weather bloggers have been rallying for greater involvement among people in rainwater harvesting measures, and they especially go to schools to broadcast this message.
Unfortunately, bloggers’ data is rarely used by Met departments. “Once you have more bloggers giving data, the scene is sure to change,” says Srikanth.