Before setting a day for the wedding or going on a long trip, Sonam Lotus – the meteorological man – first comes to mind due to the weather disturbances in the Himalayan region.
Lotus, who is the director of the Meteorological Center (MeT) in Srinagar, receives numerous phone calls daily for his weather forecast, and he politely responds to everyone.
“In the summer, I get a lot of calls from people about the weather forecast in Kashmir, so that they can plan their weddings accordingly,” he said.
Likewise, during the winter months people call it and plan their trips accordingly as the highways connecting Kashmir to the rest of the world often close due to bad weather.
Lotus told Rising Kashmir that he has been invited to wedding ceremonies on several occasions after his accurate weather forecast.
“With love, people invite me to their wedding functions. I love it, ”he said.
Lotus said the wedding day is important to all of us. People are curious about the weather conditions. Some people have asked me once for a monthly forecast which is impossible and difficult. There may be a rough 60-70% idea but not accurate, he said.
During winters, Lotus becomes a household name in Kashmir. From Hamaams to markets and from public places to kitchens, it is becoming the topic of conversation in the city.
Often seen sitting at his computer in his Rambagh office in Srinagar, Lotus could be seen counseling people over the phone on several occasions.
When the weather is bad, he is seen in the office around 5:30 a.m. and when it rains or snows heavily, he even forgets dinner and weekly holidays. His commitment has earned him confidence.
Born and raised in a farming family in Sharah, a village in Leh 60 km from the district headquarters, Lotus was a hardworking person from childhood.
“Where I am today is thanks to my parents who worked hard for my studies. After all the hard work, confidence and conviction are the keys to success, ”he said.
Until grade 6 he studied at a public school in his neighborhood and after that he passed grade 10 in high school and then joined GHSS Leh to finish 12 non-medical.
After that, Lotus went through his bachelor’s degree from Government Gandhi Memorial (GGM) Science College with physics, mathematics, and geology. Then joined the University of Jammu, to complete a Masters and Masters in Physics.
“During my studies, I saw an advertisement inviting to apply for various positions in the meteorology department across India. I applied for the same. I was selected by UPSC for the position in 2005. I was sure I would be assigned as a scientist in the department, ”he said.
After selection, Lotus underwent a one-year training course by the Central Training Institute (CTI) of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Pune, a recognized training center of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
In 2006, he was posted for the first time to the Mountain Metrological Center (MMC) at the former Srinagar Airport. “We used to call it Snow and Avalanche Studies (SASE), a DRDO project operating in this region,” he said.
In 2008, Lotus was transferred and assigned to the post of Director of the Srinagar MeT Center, where he became the longest-serving director of the department.
Srinagar MeT Center is one of the best MeT centers in the country. Notably, in 2017, the center received the award for the best IMD center in India.
Lotus is known for its accuracy in forecasting the weather in the valley.
“The advent of science and technology and the increasing power of computing are contributing to precision. The forecast needs a lot of meteorological information in addition to other parameters from different parts of the country, ”he said.
Lotus said the technology should be used in a positive way for the benefit of the people.
“I always keep the public’s sensitivity in mind. You must be responsible when issuing forecasts. People trust us and we should have some precision, ”he said.
For Lotus, the weather in Jammu and Kashmir is complex but he has analyzed it over the years and continues to do so.
“Although the weather patterns are there, it takes a lot of courage to rise to the challenge,” he said.
He believes that the weather data should not be in doubt rather that it should be genuine. “Now IMD has strengthened the observation network in the valley, especially after 2008,” he said.
Lotus said the forecast in Kashmir needs courage. He said earlier that these were restricted weather advisories. “But when I joined, my slogan was that weather updates should reach every individual because they affect everyone’s life,” he said.
“As a farmer’s son, I can feel the pain of farmers who work in orchards. Our timely weather warning can save their harvest and the rest belongs to the Almighty, ”he said.
“The weather affects everyone. There is no difference between rich and poor. It doesn’t recognize physical boundaries and touches everyone’s life, ”he said.
During the Amarnath Yatra, the MeT puts several weather stations in the sacred cave of Sonmarg to provide pilgrims with accurate weather updates.
“From regular duty VIPs to Valley, I get called often for weather updates. It’s the trust people have in me, ”he said.
“It is difficult to forecast in summer due to the instability of the weather system, while in winter forecasting is easier and more accurate,” he said.
Accurate forecasts have also helped boost the tourism industry. People only come to visit here after seeing weather updates and they plan their trips accordingly.
“The weather has become an important segment of our lives. Although there are many sources, it is important to verify the forecast from an authentic and credible source, ”he said.
“Accurate weather forecasting is part of my job and I don’t do people any favors. I am a civil servant and it is my duty, ”he declared.
For him, precise predictions do not only come from precise machines and technologies, but also from precise minds.
“It comes from the men behind the machines, from the experience, the knowledge and the great strength of my forecasts, it is the members of my team, who always support me,” he said.
In his office, the MeT manager also gave strict instructions to answer people’s phone calls, so that the information could reach every person. On the other hand, the MeT also archives the data daily.
“Today we have had meteorological information on J&K towns for over 100 years. Since 2010, all causalities related to meteorological conditions have been recorded. My whole team is working behind me and helping to make this center one of the best centers in India, ”he said.
Accurate weather is forecast after observing data from various parts. For J&K, they get data from 40 to 50 sources around the world that they have worked hard for.
More recently, weather and climate have become one of the hot topics around the world. Even this year’s Nobel Prize was also awarded to a climatologist.
“We interpret the results of the weather models and I try to do my job with honesty and dedication. People trust us and we also try to meet their expectations, ”he said.
Lotus won the Best Employee Award by the Department of Earth Sciences (MoES) in New Delh for the year 2017-18 in recognition of his significant contribution in the field of climate science and systematic and accurate weather warnings that help prevent disasters and natural disasters in the region.
On family support, he said his parents were the backbone of his success. “My wife is from Leh district and she is very caring and loving. They have always cooperated and supported me, ”he said.
In its message to young people interested in the weather field, Lotus said there is no shortcut to success. They should work hard and study to achieve their achievement in society. This is the key to success and then opportunities will be knocking on your doors, he said.
“I always advise students who come to our MeT campus to work hard and serve their people. Encourage them to show positivity, planning, smart strategy and time priority, which is very important, ”added Lotus.
Lotus is a famous meteorologist from Kashmir who has helped save many lives over the years.