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April 29, 2011

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Weather fans work with professional forecasters

WHEN shop worker and weather forecast fan "Tom" showed his meteorological research document collection to forecasters at the Shanghai meteorological bureau, they were stunned by the young man's professionalism.

Yesterday, the city weather authority opened its doors to Tom and other forecast fans, establishing an amateurs' club to encourage more communication between city residents and the professionals.

Eight amateurs, who often post their forecasts on the Internet, challenging officials, were invited to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau to meet their professional counterparts.

The bureau said establishing the club was a win-win situation, enabling officials to hear more about what the public wants from them, while giving amateurs an opportunity to learn more about the weather service.

"It's a good move, not only to encourage their efforts but to let us learn more about what people need," Shi Yi, a media officer of the bureau said yesterday.

More seminars bringing professionals and amateurs together are planned for the coming days, Shi said.

The amateurs, led by Chen Wenhui and Bi "Tom" Yong, participated in yesterday's meeting where the group discussed the weather for the upcoming May Day Holiday.

"This is very meaningful to us," said Bi, who works in a bookstore in the Super Brand Mall in the Pudong New Area. "The authority has statistics we don't have access to."

Bi, regarded as the "chief forecaster" among the amateurs, usually reads satellite cloud maps from foreign weather websites and then makes his own predictions. He has also kept a weather diary since 1998.

"I'm impressed by them," said Chen Zhiqiang, deputy director and chief forecaster of the bureau. "I'm also touched by their enthusiasm for meteorology."

"I think I'll join the club when I retire," Chen added.


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