SaveTheHills(STH) is a group of concerned citizens who are raising awareness about landslides in Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya.
Many landslides are the direct or indirect result of human interference and preventable if sufficient care is taken.
As such, unless we begin a comprehensive and sustained program towards landslide management, prevention and mitigation, the consequences of ignoring years of human callousness will, in the future be devastating.
At a time when the world news is being dominated by the Superstorm SANDY making landfall on the eastern seaboard of the USA, a storm which STH first reported on 26Oct2012 has now intensified to a full blown cyclone and has been given a name today (Viz Cyclone NILAM).
NILAM therefore, is the first cyclone in the Bay of Bengal in 2012.
You can read more about naming of Cyclones (Hurricanes or Typhoons) here
Even as a "Sandy" a superstorm threatens the eastern coast of the USA, a low pressure which brewed up off the coast of Myanmar (which STH was tracking) on 26Oct2012 gradually intensified as it moved in a southwesterly track and now is a deep depression off the coast of Tamil Nadu. IMetD has issued a cyclone warning for Tamil Nadu.
Placed above is map showing the tracks of cyclones and depressions (2009-2011) in the Bay of Bengal (source is here)
Though the SW Monsoons have withdrawn from the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya, the cyclone season in the Bay of Bengal lasts till at least Nov-Dec. STH Stormwatch is reporting the formation of another low pressure area (LOPAR) in the Bay.
For those interested, you can obtain half hourly updates of the IR images from the IMetD website here
After a relatively quiescent period through the monsoons, in Oct we are seeing a cauldron of activity in the Bay of Bengal with yet another low pressure area (LOPAR) brewing, this time off the coast of Myanmar and shifting slowly towards Bangladesh and W Bengal.
All this is not too good news for us living in the Darjeeling / Sikkim Himalaya and brings back memories of the 1968 disaster which also occurred in early October of that year. Comment by Praful Rao on 12Oct2012
As a part of STH storm watch we monitor the activity in the Bay of Bengal continuously during the monsoons and I kept a close track of this low as it formed and then gradually shifted on a north-westerly track towards Bangladesh and southern W Bengal.
Since the storm was never categorized as anything more than a "well marked low pressure" very little warning about it was given both in W Bengal and Bangladesh as such I was shocked to read about the devastation, death and havoc it caused in Bangladesh. You can read about it here
But perhaps the silver lining in all this is that even an ordinary person like me can make use of the tools made available by technology today to effectively monitor adverse weather fairly accurately and obtain advance information and warning about it .
Almost 2 days after STH first observed and reported (by telephone and SMS to certain key Disaster Management organizations) the development of a low in the north Bay of Bengal , the LOPAR (low pressure area) still ominously persists.
Excerpt from IMetD (Kolkata) website Main synoptic features based on 0830 hrs IST Observations dt.06.10.2012 Under
the influence of Upper-air Trough over North Bay of Bengal, a low
pressure area has formed over North Bay of Bengal adjoining areas.
Associated cyclonic circulation extends upto 2.1 km a.s.l.
Comment by Praful Rao
The activity in the Bay of Bengal has been unusually quiet during the monsoons of 2012 with no lows, depressions or cyclones forming.
STH monitors the activity in the Bay on the internet and reports all adverse weather activity with a view to provide early warning. On 06Oct2012, I MetD is reporting formation of the first low pressure area of the season in the Bay of Bengal.
Sep 2012 was a month of unusual rainfall activity with the first and last two weeks of the month being totally deficient in rain and almost 80% of the monthly rainfall ( 410mm) crashing down between 11Sep and 17Sep2012.
This rainfall caused landslides all over the district but there were no fatalities. Fatalities occurred in North Sikkim however, when heavy rainfall there persisted well into the third week of Sep2012.