Kerala

United by rain, social media group makes daily forecasts

The social media rain group was formed in the wake of the devastating floods of 2018 and 2019. Photo: Special Arrangement

The social media rain group was formed in the wake of the devastating floods of 2018 and 2019. Photo: Special Arrangement

A group of enthusiasts from across the State are chasing the rainclouds and thunderstorms in West Asia and South West Asia. Dozens of them are hardcore rain lovers. They talk about rain, and only rain and related matters, day in and day out.

Using their exclusive WhatsApp group named “Keralathile Mazha Maapini” (meaning the Rain Gauge of Kerala), they communicate among themselves about weather forecasts. And they forecast the weather, particularly rain and thunderstorm, every day. Their predictions have had 90% accuracy so far.

Gathering info

“Ninety per cent accuracy is something of a creditable achievement, because we don’t make wild guesses. We make predictions based on the data culled from several government and non-government agencies, including the India Meteorological Department (IMD),” said Jerin Peter from Kottayam.

An electrician by profession, Mr. Peter has been an active figure in the 268-member group dedicated to spreading information about rain and related matters. Most members watch out for rain related developments, especially in Kerala and share the news.

The social media rain group was formed in the wake of the devastating floods of 2018 and 2019. Dozens of group members have set up rain gauges at their homes and they measure the rainfall at regular intervals.

“There have been many instances when our rain predictions proved right, outweighing the IMD forecasts. It’s because we have been looking at the satellite images more closely and with specific focus on regions,” said Arif Mohammed, an engineer with the Local Self-Government department in Pathanamthitta.

Mr. Mohammed said that Konni had received the largest rainfall in the State in 2021. “The 4,700 mm rainfall that Konni received could be a record in the backdrop of Kerala’s average 3,107 mm rainfall,” said Mr. Mohammed.

Daily updates

It was Sajjad, a young engineer working in the UAE, who started the group. Sitting in the UAE, Mr. Sajjad offers daily rain updates with maps and graphics to support. The group members from different parts of the globe chip in.

“We are using MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation) for our predictions,” said Mr. Mohammed. MJO is the major fluctuation in tropical weather on weekly to monthly timescales. The MJO can be characterized as an eastward moving pulse of cloud and rainfall near the equator that typically recurs every 30 to 60 days.

Apart from the rain updates, the members share beautiful pictures and videos of rains. Some of the videos shared by the group members, and later forwarded to other people, have wowed people living in other parts of the globe about the charm of rain in Kerala.

“It’s so beautiful. Rain enhances the beauty of Kerala,” said Rashmee Shah, a forensic psychiatrist from Middleton St. George in England.

As everyone in the group is a rain aficionado, they seldom break the group rules and place anything other than rain related. “We have rarely had any such issues. That’s the sanctity of this group,” said Mr. Peter.


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Printable version | Sep 2, 2022 2:11:24 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/united-by-rain-social-media-group-makes-daily-forecasts/article65663055.ece