Friday, June 16, 2017

STH activities: With team from IIIT (Hyd) for installing Real Time Monitoring Sensors for Landslide Prediction (11-14Jun2017)

The CHIBO- PASHYOR landslides on the western face of Kalimpong have been featured many times on this blog, primarily because they are a major source of instability in the vicinity of Kalimpong town.
Six sensors, an AWS and a data logger (see this link) which automatically monitor slope failure and also  remotely measure and transmit rainfall and soil moisture data have been installed at the most unstable part of the landslide area.
This was done by three young researchers from IIIT (Hyd) who were in Kalimpong from the 11-14Jun2017. STH which has been associated with IIIT in their previous visit worked closely with the 3 researchers for selecting the sites for sensor placement and also liaising with the local people for security of the equipment.
On successful completion of  the 2yr project, IIIT hopes to develop landslide prediction equipment which could give early warning on landslides, based on rainfall thresholds and slope movement.
Will be posting co-ordinates of the sensor, datalogger locations shortly.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Nominations open for the IMI's Dr RS Tolia Award 2017 for 'Outstanding work in the Mountains'

DR R.S. TOLIA AWARD 2017

Call for Nominations
The Integrated Mountain Initiative (IMI) community suffered a great loss in 2016 with the passing away of its esteemed and visionary leader, elder, and guiding light- Dr RS Tolia. Dr RS Tolia conceptualized the idea of IMI, got the like-minded people on board and led it from the front as its founding President. His passion and commitment towards improving the lives of mountain communities is what drove him. There are few people who have had such a profound impact on the future direction of mountain development as Dr Tolia. His vision and commitment for the formation of a pan-Indian mountain movement not only unified diverse mountain states of India but also inspired others. His deep understanding of the links among people, cultures, livelihoods and mountain environment undoubtedly influenced a generation of researchers, organizations and policymakers.
While his passionate determination will continue to inspire people, IMI community aims to encourage passionate individuals to carry forward the cause of integrated mountain development to commemorate the memory of Dr. Tolia and in gratitude to its founding President. Therefore, in the 10th General council (GC) Meeting held on 10th February, 2017 at Delhi, the GC of IMI resolved to institute ‘Dr RS Tolia Award’ to recognize individual efforts that have made impact in integrating and addressing the issues of mountain communities.
Purpose & Rationale
The purpose of the award is to recognize and reward the exemplary work of individuals whose work has created an impact / has the potential to impact sustainable prosperity and well-being of the people of the Mountain states in India. In exceptional cases organizations can will also be considered. However, the preference will be to reward individuals.
Eligibility Criteria & Profile of the Suitable Candidate
1. Individuals whose work has created an impact or has the potential to impact the lives and sustainability of Mountain areas positively are eligible to apply for the Award
2. In rare cases, we may recognize institutions where such institutions are systematically responsible for driving action that meets the purpose of this award.
3. The award will not be restricted to any particular sectors or fields of action.
4. Innovation at grass root levels with widespread application/ impact as well as policy advocacy aimed at addressing issues and challenges of mountain states in India, are eligible for consideration for award
5. Academic research that informs policy formulation and action research with similar impact is also eligible.
6. The award is aimed at celebrating the contribution of mountain people working to improve the lives of mountain people and sustainable prosperity of IMI member states, but eligibility for nomination for the award is not restricted to people from mountains only. If some individuals’ / organizations’ work has made a huge positive difference to people of the member states of IMI, they will be recognized irrespective of where they come from
Value of the Award
The value of the Award is Rs. 1 lakh cash, citation and a medallion. In addition, IMI will cover all related expenses such as travel expenses of final nominees and the award winner as appropriate.
Deadline
Nominations for the award are now open and will be accepted till 30 June 2017 (midnight). Interested individuals/organisations must download the nomination form and send in their application along with a recent CV by this date to pd.imi@inmi.in. Late applications will not be considered.
____________________

Read more here

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya,
9475033744

Monday, June 5, 2017

Rainfall data of Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya (MAY2017)


Brief summary :-
  • Rainfall in May2017 for the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalayas was deficient (except for Jaldhaka, in the foot hills of the Dooars). Most of the rainfall occurred in the first half of the month while the latter half was largely dry.
  • We had our first fatality of the year with a tree smashing down and instantly killing the driver of a truck on NH10 near Melli on 09May2017
  • We also had Cyclone 'Mora' brewing up in the Bay of Bengal but it did not affect us in any way
Credits : Maps and lower chart from IMD

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya,
9475033744


Sunday, May 21, 2017

STH Activities with team of researchers from Colorado University (18May2017)


Prof Andrew Rumbach of Colorado Univ is an old Kalimpong hand (see 1 & 2) and is here for approx 3 weeks to research impact of urbanization and inherent risk to rural communities. He is accompanied by Mr Brian Sullivan and Ms. Izabela Petrykowska who are research assistants from the College of Architecture and Planning (CU), Denver
STH would be working with them in the Darjeeling/Kalimpong areas.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Rainfall data of Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya - Apr2017


Synopsis of April weather.
We had the first cyclone of the year (Maarutha) brewing up in the Bay on 16Apr2017 but as predicted it affected Myanmar and a few north eastern states.
We had quite of lot of hailstorm activity in the region but no major damage was reported. We also published a mid-month bulletin on precipitation here.
A major landslide in Shimla caused quite a lot of sensation since a detailed video was uploaded on Youtube.

All maps are from IMD.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Death in the Mountains (09May2017)


A thunderstorm in the morning of 09May2017 struck a huge region as can be seen in the satellite image below. In the Darjeeling-Sikkim region, the rainfall was not intense during the storm but associated winds at around 0900hrs IST, knocked down several trees on National Highway10 (NH10) which links Siliguri with Gangtok .
One of the trees crashed directly onto the driver's cabin of a truck plying on the highway at Melli, killing him instantly.
This is first death due to hydro-meteorological causes in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya in 2017.
Rainfall at Kalimpong on 09May2017: 24mm

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling -Sikkim Himalayas

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Training program on "Earthquake and Landslide Management' at Darjeeling (20-22Apr2017)

The program is being organized by the Govt of W Bengal and SaveTheHills is facilitating the attendance of 6 participants from Kalimpong to attend the 3 day course. In addition, 4 civil engineering students from SMIT, Majitar (Sikkim) will be attending the event on 21Apr2017

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong dist.
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya


Sunday, April 16, 2017

STH Stormwatch : Cyclone 'Maarutha' is born (16Apr2017) and its early demise (Update of 17Apr2017)

The storm in the Bay of Bengal intensified into a full blown cyclone and was christened 'MAARUTHA' today. This is the first named storm of the 2017 Northern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclone season.

Update of 17Apr2017 (Extracts from JTWC bulletin)
' SATELLITE IMAGERY SHOWS THE SYSTEM HAS MADE LANDFALL NEAR TOUNGUP AND IS RAPIDLY DECAYING.'
JTWC has also issued its final warning on the cyclone considering it no longer significant.


Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Friday, April 14, 2017

STH Stormwatch : The FIRST storm of 2017 (in the Bay of Bengal)

Location of Low pressure area is approximate

Update from JTWC  (1330h / 14Apr2017)
JTWC has upgraded the warning from LOW to MEDIUM and extract is reproduced below :-
'GLOBAL MODELS ARE IN AGREEMENT ABOUT THE SYSTEM CONTINUING TO DEVELOP RAPIDLY AND TRACK TO THE NORTH-NORTHEAST. MAXIMUM SUSTAINED SURFACE WINDS ARE ESTIMATED AT 20 TO 25 KNOTS. MINIMUM SEA LEVEL PRESSURE IS ESTIMATED TO BE NEAR 1005 MB. THE POTENTIAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF A SIGNIFICANT TROPICAL CYCLONE WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS IS UPGRADED TO MEDIUM.'

Update of 15Apr2017 (JTWC)

Update of 15Apr2017 (IMD)IMD has categorized the storm as a DEPRESSION now (morning inference) and forecasts the storm to intensify further into a deep depression and move towards the north Myanmar coast in the next 72hrs


Praful Rao
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Rainfall data of Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya : March 2017



The precipitation of Mar2017 was a welcome phenomenon. In our region the rainfall,snow and even the hail was moderate with no landslides or casualties reported and the rain brought a relief from the forest fires, the acute water shortage and came as a welcome break for those involved in farming and horticulture.
And even though IMD predicts higher than normal temps in our region in the pre-monsoon period, temperatures here are below normal, ranging from cool to even cold.
It snowed in Sandakhpu , Darjeeling around the 11Mar2017 (see image below).

The most disconcerting event was of course the 4.5M earthquake of 27Mar2017 epi-centred 25km northeast of Kalimpong, near Pakyong (Sikkim) - see previous post.

Rainfall data collection and tabulation - Rohan Rao

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Monday, March 27, 2017

Earthquake report: 27Mar2017, NE of Kalimpong

Date of Occurence:
27/03/2017
Time:
03:12:09 HRS(IST)
Intensity:
SLIGHT
Magnitude:
4.6
Depth:
10 KM
Epicentre:
Lat. 27.3°N Long.88.6°E
Region:
EAST SIKKIM


 As per the above report the intensity is 'Slight' but mark my words, we were jolted out of bed in Kalimpong by a strong but momentary shake  at approx 3.15am which knocked off the power supply for about 20 mins. The epicenter was 26.1km NE of Kalimpong, near Pakyong.
5hrs later at 8.10am, we have not received any report of casualties or damage.

Praful Rao,
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya


Saturday, March 25, 2017

How to convert your smartphone into an Early Warning (EW) device

1. I was tracking the storm (Slide 1) over Nepal last evening on this IMD website and had to resist an urge to post it on STH's  'Hazard Alert', What'sApp group because I was not too sure of the movement of the storm.
2. Having tracked storms on broad band internet for over 5 -7yrs now ( see 1, 2), I am cautious about creating panic or apprehension by uploading inaccurate weather forecasts - nevertheless because of the prevailing westerly upper winds, I was more or less certain that the storm would reach us if it did not dissipate elsewhere. Where I was wrong was in the timing - I expected the storm to reach us in 2 hrs.
3. Six hrs later, at 3.30am this morning, I was woken up by the sound of driving rain, followed by loud peals of thunder and lightning. A glance at the IR satellite imagery (Slide 2) on my smartphone told me that the storm had arrived over us.
4. It dumped almost 40mm of rain in as much time which gives an approx intensity of 60mm/hr - an intensity which can trigger off landslides if the precipitation is sustained.
5. But here is the bottom line :-
a. Updated satellite imagery (IMD updates its images every 30mins) together with cloud movement animation and other web - based info (like Lightning Location) can provide us with powerful tools to give us EW info on  storm movements.
b. Major weather events like cyclones and hurricanes give ample warning (5-6 days)
c. Minor weather events like local storms generated by micro-climates are often the only ones which do NOT show up on satellite imagery.
d. I rely a lot on IMD satellite imagery but there are many others which I hop to when IMD website is down (eg. Bangladesh and Nepal meteorological dept websites)
6. While all this is pertinent to hydrological events only, one need not wait for the next BBC weather bulletin to check the forecast
- instead just convert your smart phone into an early warning device!

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya


Friday, March 24, 2017

STH activity and all about bees (CNN)

      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From CNN (20Mar2017)

'Pollinators, a diverse group that includes insects and animals such as birds and bats, are under threat because of widespread pesticide use, climate change, the emergence of foreign pests, diseases and habitat loss. Between April 2015 and April 2016, beekeepers in the United States lost 44 percent of their colonies and in the UK, beekeepers reported losses of almost 17 percent, according to the British Beekeepers Association'.
Read full story here

Note :- The quote on 'Bees' on the image above is attributed to Einstein, but many believe that there is no substantive evidence that he did make this statement.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong,
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Monday, March 13, 2017

For the record : Rainfall (10/11Mar2017) in the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya after 5 months of drought

As per STH records the last day it rained in this region (discounting N Sikkim) was on 13Oct2016, after which this whole area is in the grip of drought like conditions - leading to forest fires, water shortage and dust haze covering the area.
After almost 5 months of drought, a western disturbance passing thru this area gave welcome showers :-

a. 10Mar2017- 45mm (in Kalimpong)
b. 11Mar2017 - 7mm  (in Kalimpong)

There was also snowfall in Sandakphu which is the highest point in Bengal.

Praful Rao.
Kalimpong,
Kalimpong district






Monday, March 6, 2017

Inducting affordable ICT to empower ourselves : Drones for forest fire control

The reason for the forest fires becomes amply clear when we see the above rainfall map from IMD. Like much of the country, the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya is running almost 89% deficient in rainfall and the forests are full of tinder dry foliage.


Praful Rao,
Kalimpong,
Dist Kalimpong