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Hyderabad: Every time clouds gather over the city skies, there are many who immediately open Twitter and check whether there’s an update from a 17-year-old engineering student. There are many more, who tweet to this teenager, asking him whether it is okay to start their journeys or whether the rains could play spoilsport. And no, he does not work for the Weather Department.

Tarani Balaji, popular as Telangana Weatherman on Twitter, and uses the handle @balaji25_t, remembers gazing out of the school classroom window as a kid, enjoying the rainy afternoon sights outside. However, the teacher caught him and sent him out as a punishment, though Balaji says he was glad he could enjoy the rain more.

One of the more popular weather enthusiasts on Twitter, which has a growing tribe of such forecasters, Hyderabad-based Balaji is pursuing Civil Engineering at the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Kukatpally. “Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by cloud structures and rain. Even if it rained in the middle of the night, I’d get up, go out and enjoy the weather,” he says.

It was during his tenth grade that Balaji got serious about weather forecasting. After completing his 12th, he got time to research the weather due to the lockdown. He followed a lot of weather-related YouTube videos, journals, articles and research papers and also met other senior weather enthusiasts who were already posting weather updates on Twitter.

“I started messaging them, asking them questions about weather forecasting,” he says, adding that he had ‘learned a lot’ from them. It was around the time that he joined Twitter when Hyderabad saw the worst floods in recent times. Balaji got down to work, and his timely updates, most of them accurate, earned him more followers on Twitter.

“My best memory is when a follower thanked me saying it’s because of my forecast that he safely took his pregnant wife to the hospital and the delivery went without a hitch,” he shares.

Balaji believes that his forecasts are 90 per cent accurate, and leaves the rest to the unpredictability of the weather. Explaining his method, he says that he first observes the sky patterns before analysing weather models and data from various weather agencies. Balaji says he takes short breaks from social media when he feels the stress balancing academics and forecasts. His parents are extremely proud and supportive of him.



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Author: Howard Caldwell