CHENNAI: The longest serving director of the Area Cyclone Warning Centre (ACWC) S R Ramanan, a cult figure known for his presentation of weather forecasts on TV, is all set to call it quits on March 31, signalling the end of an era at the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC), Chennai. Though the meteorological department will miss the services of Ramanan, he says modestly that nobody is bigger than an organisation.
Speaking to City Express, Ramanan said he thoroughly enjoyed his 36 years in the department. “I am holding my head high while demitting office. When I joined the department in 1980, I still remember how people used to make fun of IMD weather forecasts. But, over the years, people’s perception has changed a lot thanks to technological advancement,” he says.
During the December deluge, social media memes on Tamil Nadu’s own weatherman trended heavily on social media. Memes like “Ruled by semester exams...there is only one hope...Ramanan sir...examinations postponed” often went viral on social media. There are several YouTube videos created as a tribute to him. There are also Facebook pages running Ramanan jokes. The man himself says he enjoys seeing these videos and jokes. “I also laugh looking at a good weather joke that I often feature in,” he smiles.
On his retirement plans, Ramanan says he wants to take a long break and stay out of the limelight. “I had plans to stay with my daughter in Europe, and even booked the ticket. But I had to change my itinerary because of a personal crisis. As of now, I haven’t thought much about post-retirement plans, but I will continue to be associated with the student fraternity, which gave me a celebrity status,” he chuckles. “I will continue delivering lectures in schools and colleges. I don’t have any other thoughts at the moment. I want to spend time with family.”
Ramanan is a post-graduate in physics from Annamalai University. He got his PhD from the University of Madras in agricultural climatology. He joined the Meteorological Department of India in 1980. He worked as a forecaster at the Northern Hemisphere Analysis Centre, New Delhi and also at the Aviation Meteorological Office, Chennai airport. He was actively involved in the installation of Automatic Message Switching System in 1995 and after his promotion as director in 2002, he joined the Area Cyclone Warning Centre, Regional Meteorological Centre in Chennai.
Forecasts in Tropical Areas Are Tough
Ramanan said forecasting weather in tropical conditions like India is always a challenge. A lot of work is going on to predict weather conditions and improvements are certainly on the horizon. “We can never say that we reached the ideal situation. Though technology has improved, there is a lot of scope for improvement. Seasonal forecasting in another area of focus,” he says.
Need Better Job Placements
Currently, Indian Meteorological Department is the largest recruiter of people completing meteorology courses. Unlike in countries like the US, where there are many private players who recognise talent, India has fewer placement options. Only now, some private entities are venturing into forecasting. Andhra University in Visakhapatanam was the first to start MSc in Oceanography or Meteorology followed by Cochin University of Science and Technology. IIT Kharagpur and Delhi also offer courses in meteorology