Friday, July 15, 2016

STH Activities : Landslide Survey on the eastern flanks of Kalimpong (14July2016)

 14th Mile Landslide
The 14th mile 'sinking zone' lying on the eastern face of the Kalimpong ridgeline is one of the old landslide areas of this town. It is repaired on annual basis and is rumored to be a "blessing" to many a contractor - except that now with population growing and even a posh hotel coming up directly above this site, it will also be a curse to quite a few.
When I visited the site on 14Jul2016, I found that a portion of the road to Algarah had sunk considerably (slide 'A') and worse still the culvert next to it had also sunk (slide 'B') - and ALL the water from the culvert was percolating into the crack (slide 'C') acting as a lubricant to an unstable hillside ready to slide down.
Coordinates :
27°05´27.6” N
Elevation : 1372m
Landslide blocking Kalimpong - Lava Road
With our main road to the external world, NH10 always in a precarious state during the monsoons, we rely on the Kalimpong- Lava- Gorubathan road as our an alternate route to the plains. Unfortunately, this road also has quite a few 'hotspots' which keep the BRO busy during the monsoons.
On Sunday, 10July2016 at around 1600h, following the 125mm rainfall of Saturday, a portion of this road near Rickisum gave way. It remained blocked for 4 days and effectively cut off Lava and much of the eastern parts of sub-division from Kalimpong town.
Coodinates :
Elevation : 1804m

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Monday, July 11, 2016

STH activities : At the Kohima Workshop on DRR and Climate Change : 07/08July2016

The workshop was organized by NSDMA, SDFN, IMI and supported by NECTAR
It was indeed heartening to see so many state government officials and line departments attending and actively participating in both the days of the seminar.
Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Monday, July 4, 2016

Rainfall data Jun2016 - Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalaya

The monsoons arrived over the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya almost 10 days late (14Jun instead of 05Jun2016), yet the first burst of rains after a drought-like situation brought in floods in many areas of Dooars and Alipur Duar.
Many parts of Sikkim received heavy rains leading to the dams releasing excess water on the Teesta and Rangit rivers - this would have contributed to the flooding in Jalpaiguri.
There were no major landslides in this region.

Rainfall data collection and preparation : Rohan Rao

Praful Rao,

STH Activities (03Jul2016) - Awareness workshop with officials of the Forest Department (W.Bengal Govt)

My grateful thanks to Dr PT Bhutia (IFS) - Spl APCCF and Chief Conservator of Forests, Northern Circle for making the awareness workshop possible.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Friday, July 1, 2016

Lest we forget : The deluge and deaths of 30Jun/01Jul2015

STH has covered the events in separate blogs (see 1,2,3)

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Sunday, June 26, 2016

STH stormwatch : Low pressure area forms in Bay of Bengal and updates

Excerpt from IMD All India Weather Inference
'The low pressure area over westcentral Bay of Bengal off Coastal Andhra Pradesh now lies over west central & adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal off south Odisha, north Andhra Pradesh. Associated upper   air   cyclonic   circulation   extends   upto   7.6   Km   above   mean   sea   level   tilting   southwards   with height. It is likely to become well marked low pressure area during next 24 hours.'

We will keep a track of the storm and post updates as required.

Update on 27Jun2016 (evening)
a. The low pressure in the Bay of Bengal persists.
b. The low pressure in the Arabian sea has intensified into a depression and is expected to move westwards.

Praful Rao
Dist Darjeeling

Friday, June 24, 2016

Project SHAMROCC in Kalimpong

Project SHAMROCC, comprising a team of distinguished scientists from the UK and India was in Kalimpong briefly in the first week of Mar2016, with a view to carry out a feasibility study for landslide prediction in the Darjeeling Himalaya, which is one of the most landslide prone areas in the world.
One of the events that was organized during their visit here was a workshop where Dr David Petley, one of the world's leading scientists on landslide hazards gave a talk 'on 'Managing Landslides - Hazards and Risks in the Himalayas'.
We have finally managed to upload the entire workshop on Youtube in two parts for all to view and learn from.

My deep thanks to the SHAMROCC team for their visit here and to Mr Naren Tamang of KTv, Kalimpong for uploading the video.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, June 23, 2016

All about the SW Monsoons : Project BoBBLE launches off tomorrow

“The Indian monsoon is notoriously hard to predict. It is a very complicated weather system and the processes are not understood or recorded in science. "
                                        - Prof Prof Adrian Matthews (Univ of East Anglia, UK)
Project BoBBle
The project called the Bay of Bengal Boundary LayerExperiment (BoBBLE) aims for a better understanding of the actual physical processes so as to ultimately create more accurate forecasts.
Researchers from University of East Anglia and Reading (UK) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) in Southampton along with scientists from four Indian institutions: the Centre for Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences (CAOS) Bangalore, the Indian National Centre for Climate Information Services (INCOIS) Hyderabad , the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF) NOIDA NCR and the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) Chennai, will embark on June 24 from Chennai on the Indian research vessel Oceanographic Research Vessel ORV Sindhu Sadhana.
Simultaneously other researchers from India and the University of Reading will fly out in a British research aircraft to make observations in the atmosphere. The team will spend a month at sea – with data from the 250-mile stretch of international water beamed back to using mobile phone signals daily. Scientists from the University of East Anglia (UEA) will release underwater robots to monitor how ocean conditions influence monsoon rainfall. Researchers will use this data to create computer models of the ocean to determine how it affects weather systems and rainfall over India. - full article

Highlights of 2nd Long Range Forecast update (02Jun2016) issued by IMD
  • Rainfall over the country as a whole for the 2016 southwest monsoon season (June to September) is most likely to be ABOVE NORMAL (>104% to 110%) of long period average (LPA)
  • Quantitatively, monsoon season rainfall for the country as a whole is likely to be 106 % of the long period average with a model error of ±4%.
  • Region wise, the season rainfall is likely to be 108 % of LPA over North, West India, 113 % of LPA over Central India, 113% of LPA over South Peninsula and 94 % of LPA over North East India all with a model error of ± 8 %.
  • The monthly rainfall over the country as whole is likely to be 107% of its LPA during July and 104 % of LPA during August both with a model error of ± 9 %.  
Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rainfall data for Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya for May2016 and a sure way to kill our mountains

Much of Darjeeling district went deficient in rainfall in May2016 whereas in Sikkim, there was abundant rain.
Richu bridge in North Sikkim was washed away following the intense rains of 15/16May2016 and that proved to be an unexpected bonanza for hoteliers in Kalimpong with tourists changing their destination from North Sikkim to spend some time in Kalimpong.
Kalimpong was almost bone dry and desperate people started drilling the mountain aquifers to pump out water.
A study done in 2012 by a local NGO, revealed no shortage of surface water for Kalimpong town; the real reason for this shortfall only being mismanagement and corruption.
As such there is no requirement for drilling bore wells in Kalimpong in the first place.
Therefore, STH went on local TV and appealed through the press not to tamper with ground water without a thorough study of our aquifer system and also without plans to recharge drying springs.
So far this appeal has only fallen on deaf ears with the GTA announcing that it plans to dig another 10 bore wells in Darjeeling district.

Photo credit : Chinlop Fudong
Rainfall data collection : Rohan Rao, STH

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling