Meet Kashmir’s ‘weather spotter’, who is helping thousands with his accurate predictions - Hindustan Times
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Meet Kashmir’s ‘weather spotter’, who is helping thousands with his accurate predictions

ByMir Ehsan, Srinagar
Mar 22, 2022 01:57 AM IST

Faizan Arif Keng’s weather channel “Kashmir Weather” has around 64,000 followers overall, including 16,900 alone on Twitter, besides Telegram, YouTube and Facebook

Kashmir’s weather has many hues - pleasant spring, dry summer, sloppy autumn and snowy winter, not to speak of its unusual and cyclical twists.

Faizan Arif Keng’s predictions, which are based on scientific models and information, are mostly accurate and have earned him the sobriquet of “weather spotter” of Kashmir.
Faizan Arif Keng’s predictions, which are based on scientific models and information, are mostly accurate and have earned him the sobriquet of “weather spotter” of Kashmir.

As the dependency of Kashmiris on forecasts increase amid the unpredictable weather, snow, rainfall and erratic heat waves, a young man from the old city is slowly emerging as a star weather man. Faizan Arif Keng’s social media platforms have become the go to for many Kashmiris- from business-class travellers to brides intending to fix their marriage dates and fruit farmers who want to spray pesticides over their crops. His weather channel “Kashmir Weather” has around 64,000 followers overall, including 16,900 alone on Twitter, besides Telegram, YouTube and Facebook.

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His predictions, which are based on scientific models and information, are mostly accurate and have earned him the sobriquet of “weather spotter” of Kashmir. “When I was young, I used to sit near the windowsill and watch the lightning, roaring sound of thunder and windstorms. Though I used to be afraid of the rapturous sound, my passion for it grew even more,” said Keng, while scanning weather charts on his computer at his home in the old city locality of Nawakadal.

The young man is currently pursuing his bachelors in physics from a private university in Lucknow and the weather updates provided by him have generated a lot of interest not only among locals, but officials as well. “Once I got hold of my smart phone, I used to check “AccuWeather”, besides listening to forecasts on evening shows of Doordarshan and Radio Kashmir. I used to read a lot about weather and its patterns on weather apps everyday and slowly began to learn weather models and science related to it, which helped me a lot to put correct information in public domain,” said Keng.

Faizan says he has been analysing the weather everyday for the past seven years. “I have learned lot of nuances in this field, as I spend three to four hours daily on studying weather of J&K. I explore many new things and try to link the global effects on the weather of Jammu and Kashmir.”

Off late, weather has become a more important subject for people of J&K due to the global warming, which impacts the horticulture and agriculture sectors of J&K, which contribute to more than 10% of UT’s GDP and provide livelihood to lakhs of people here.

“Very little research has been done in this field. I am trying to link how phenomenon like La Niña, El Niño and neutral phase of ENSO disturb or create an impact on the weather of J&K and Ladakh and how the “Polar Vortex” influences the weather during winter. I am also researching how the impact on Europe, particularly around the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions by other global weather effects, can influence the weather of J&K and Ladakh Hopefully, I will fully crack it in the coming years,” he says and adds that he uses more than dozen weather models for forecasting.

“At times, I extend my forecasting to 20-35 days and have managed to get better results in that too. My prediction accuracy for the first five days is above 95%.Then, it decreased later on as the weather changes,” he said.

Last year, Faizan Arif released a long-range forecast for the entire winter. “While the first month went as per the prediction, but results weren’t good for the last two months. I believe, predicting weather of J&K is most difficult, at least in India. The weather here gets influenced by Himalayas and low-resolution models fail to catch the effects of it. As a result, forecasts are sometimes very poor,” he says, adding that since the region is prone to cloudbursts, sometime the unlimited number of hailstorms during springs especially among other factors make it as the most difficult region for accurate predictions.

“Though I get positive feedback from people overall for my accurate predictions, but honestly saying I have made some wrong forecasts too. I am also learning Python for weather data visualisation, which will also be helpful for people,” he added

Amir Ali, director J&K disaster management Kashmir, said that they have been relying on IMD for providing us weather forecasts till now. “He (Arif Faizan) has for the last few years started providing accurate weather reports, particularly, adverse weather forecasts. The accuracy of the forecast is very reliable and we are taking full advantage of it. This young gentleman will go a long way, and J&K will greatly benefit from his skills,” he said.

Mir Bilal, an avid weather watcher, while appreciating Faizan’s efforts for accuracy and strong analytical skills, said, “Despite scant resources and lack of direct access to modern technology, all the predictions he has made have thus far materialised. If we talk about recent times, he was the first weather forecaster to have predicted in February that temperature could rise significantly in March across the region.”

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