Published: 19th November 2018
This Govt School teacher from Nagapattinam predicted Cyclone Gaja's path and live updated it on Whatsapp
A secondary grade teacher, who teaches Classes I to VIII (all subjects) in a Panchayat Union Middle School, Selvakumar has been predicting and watching the weather since 1995
At least 45 people died and almost 2,50,000 were evacuated to relief camps in the last two days after cyclone Gaja hit the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry early on Friday. A lot of them owe their lives to 46-year-old teacher N Selvakumar from Vedaranyam in the Nagapattinam district who predicted Gaja's trail accurately and spread it on a WhatsApp group. A secondary grade teacher, to Classes I to VIII (all subjects) in a Panchayat Union Middle School near Mannargudi, Selvakumar has been predicting and watching the weather since 1995.
A self-taught weather watcher, Selvakumar's updates about Gaja through Whatsapp groups and an android application called Namma Uzhavan kept the people in the district well-informed in advance — since the first week of November — about the storm. "I started looking at cyclone and storm pictures that used to come in the newspapers since I was a child. It fascinated me and that's how I got interested in the whole thing," says Selvakumar.
He has been forecasting the weather and gaining experience in this field by observing weather models including those of storms, cyclones and rainfall patterns since 2014 through the tools available on the website of the India Meteorological Department (IMD). But he had been doing the same since 2007 through text messages. "I used to make a lot of mistakes in the beginning, then I started to read a lot of books, collect more data and perfected the art of predicting gradually. Now, even MLAs and IAS officers approach me for suggestions," he adds.
The initial going, though, was tough. "At first, when I started to predict the weather, only a few of my friends believed me, eventually people in my village also began to do so. I mostly share my predictions through Whatsapp and the app now, I also often call people to let them know," says Selvakumar. He says that after Gaja made landfall near Nagapattinam district on Friday and was observed proceeding towards the southern districts, even revenue officials approached him to learn about the cyclone's course. He said delightfully that residents and farmers have also been depending on him for rain-related updates and it has luckily been 95 per cent accurate till now.
Selvakumar wants to become a weatherman but he says it's not an easy profession to get into. "I always wanted to get into weather reporting, but you have to be passionate about your work and be dedicated to it 24x7. There's no way that you will have any time left to spend with your family or even yourself. That's what kept me from it till now. I am not sure what I will do in the future," concludes Selvakumar.