Saturday, January 23, 2010



“The trouble with weather forecasting in Pakistan is that it's right too often for us - to ignore it and wrong too often for us - to rely on it.”

I woke up early on Saturday morning (10: am :-) to meet few of multiple tasks including my visit to a bank. The weather was cloudy, heralding today might prove Met Office forecast of rain (that they have been making since last couple of MONTHS) right.

Settling down my tasks till 2:00 pm, I decided to go my office with multiple ideas to file a story regarding ‘Weather’ with emphasis on why our Met Office forecast go wrong constantly.

As I entered my office, I called telephone operator to make a quick call to Met Office. “Assalamu Alaikum Sir- It’s Mahtab from Daily Times Newspaper. How are you sir? I want to steal your 10 minutes,” I said in a single breath. “Walaikum Salam- OK, sure, please go ahead”, this voice was of Met Office duty officer. “Firstly, tell me today’s weather prediction and secondly temperature of Islamabad- Any drop of rain expected today? Why, having all the advanced technology and paraphernalia
Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) always predict what actually is opposite to it? Why you guys show sympathy with us when none of existing public sector organization is doing? You believe in hope or is it hope against hope? I heard and read, after occupying Kashmir territory, water of rivers flowing to Pakistan, now India is deviously controlling our climate, too? Is it correct or the poor Al Nino is to get all the blame??? “Hold on, please, duty officer said and there emerged another voice. Instead of continuing my strings of questions- I asked him to educate me about El-Nino phenomena or (Al Nino)! He said El Nino weather pattern had been prevailing over Pakistan since November 2009, and was blocking winter rains. The current El Nino conditions that started in June 2009 and suppressed monsoon rains in Pakistan were still continuing and were expected to last till 2010. ;-) I was surprised about the parrot-like cramming and promptly asked why our forecast never met to our words, (rather Met Office prophecy surprised all when it proved rightly). “I love watching Ashes- and in Lords’ Cricket Ground, experts (one of them with the lovely voice and accent – David Lloyd ;-) revealed that chance of shower later this afternoon- and it happened- it happened (always) and if it is an ODI, they told us the over number in which drops come down- and it happened (Hitting the bulls eye), I stretched our conversation. What I heard in response was a laughing voice and I again asked … but what is El-Nino? ……. “or line cut gai…

I peeped through the window, and found the Sun hiding among the black clouds. But weatherman knows best, I fancied considering that they do have today’s’ top technology.

In a frustration, after a while, I decided to visit the ‘Aqalmand’ weatherman to learn the ‘Brilliant methods of forecasting’. On entering the meteorologist room, I saw five wheels hung with the walls that can be rotated. Two wheels were imprinted with various sorts of weathers on them and the three had numbers on them.

I asked the weatherman about the techniques (methodology) they use for making prediction. “You see these wheels,” he began, “firstly I spin the first wheel and then see what come up. Then the second wheel is rotated in the same way. If both of them stop at, for example Sun- I forecast Sunny Day,” what about other possibilities”? I inquired.

“Well… if it comes Sun on one and clouds on second, then I guess that the
day will be partially cloudy with a chance of rain,” he said. “And the temperature?” I asked. “You see, that if it is a Sunny day, then I rotate the third wheel which has degrees from 65-100 imprinted on it, if a cloudy day- I use fourth wheel (ranging from 45-64 degrees). The fifth one id to predict the percent chance of rain.”

But what about the Satellite Photographs, you people show on TV screens? I further asked. “O! Don’t worry dear- about them… All of them are as old as Mohenjodaro. Don’t you know our space satellite has been destroyed for years. Whatever these wheels predict- Look into my files for a photograph corresponding to the prediction and this is to be shown on TV- and the system always clicked,” the ‘qualified’ meteorologist said.

As I left, I couldn’t help wonder that how modern technology and science making things appear so easy. Even a kid can do it. Have you ever thought about what is happening in our Meteorological Departments and where are we heading towards …….??? There are so many jokes related to it and few of them you must have read or heard!

On a serious note, El Nino, an abnormal warming of surface ocean waters in the eastern tropical Pacific, is one part of what's called the Southern Oscillation. The Southern Oscillation is the see-saw pattern of reversing surface air pressure between the eastern and western tropical Pacific; when the surface pressure is high in the eastern tropical Pacific it is low in the western tropical Pacific, and vice-versa. Because the ocean warming and pressure reversals are, for the most part, simultaneous, scientists call this phenomenon the El Nino / Southern O
scillation or ENSO for short. South American fisherman have given this phenomenon the name El Nino, which is Spanish for "The Christ Child," because it comes about the time of the celebration of the birth of the Christ Child-Christmas- and here I conclude my piece of writing.

Mahtab Bashir is a 'budding fiction-writer' & believes everything in Pakistan is a fiction. He may be contacted at

PS: All ‘Facts’ are ‘Fictions’ here, except the last paragraph about El-Nino.

1 comment:

lalarukh said...

Pretty Techinical rather good 1