Sunday, July 29, 2012

"The times, they are a changin" - extreme weather-related events in the past week

  • Large parts of India are reporting deficient rainfall even as July2012 (our rainiest monsoon month) is ending- as such the spectre of drought looms large over many parts of the country (see top map- source
  • The bread basket of the US reels under severe drought conditions (see bottom map - source
  • In the week beginning 21July2012, 77 people died due to flooding in Beijing in the heaviest rainfall recorded since record keeping began 60yrs ago.
  • NASA reports "strange and sudden massive melt in Greenland" when the ice melt area went from 40 percent of the ice sheet to 97 percent in four days. You can read about it here
Praful Rao

Monday, July 23, 2012

100mm of rainfall & World Heritage site in peril : Tindharia (19July2012)

STH has covered the Tindharia landslides earlier (see here and here). On 19July2012 following approximately 100mm of rainfall (as per our ARG at Kurseong), a portion of the ground adjacent to the workshop collapsed endangering the famous 100yr old Darjeeling Himalayan Railway workshop located at Tindharia.


The construction work including rail track of Darjeeling Himalayan Railways started in May 1879 and completed from Siliguri to Tindharia in 1880. The Governor General of India, Mr. Lord Litton inaugurated the train running in March 1880. Narrow Gauge train was operated upto Darjeeling in 1881. A miniature workshop was built at the present location of loco shed TDH in 1881. Tindharia workshop was built temporarily in the last part of the 19th century for maintenance of NG locomotives and carriages and wagons of DHR. Installation of Tindharia workshop at the present location started in 1913. The workshop came into operation in 1925. The total area of the workshop is 6670 sqm, out of which 3810 sq.m. is covered. DHR was initially tagged with NE zone and was subsequently transferred to NF in the year 1958. The world heritage committee at its 23rd session at Marrakesh, Morocco decided to inscribe Darjeeling Himalayan Railway site on the world heritage list. This was done on 26.11.2000 and it has deepened Indian Railways’ commitment towards the preservation of steam heritage on this system.

Photo credit : STH Member Bhushan Chhetri and Mr Kundun Yolmo (Siliguri)

Praful Rao

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

100mm of rainfall,14-15Jul2012 :Images from Kurseong

Despite IMetD stating that Darjeeling district has had normal rainfall, STH's rainfall gauges located at Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong all show less than normal rainfall for May/June/and till date in July2012.
This is further substantiated by the fact that paddy cultivation which normally takes place in July in Kalimpong is on hold since paddy fields which should be flooded by monsoon rain water by this time, are still dry.
Despite this on 14-15July when we had just 100mm of rainfall over a 12hr period, landslides blocked the National Highway (NH) 31A between Gangtok and Siliguri and Darjeeling was also cut off from Siliguri for some time due to the above slips and not surprisingly the landslides took place along roads which are known to be a major cause of landslides the world over
Top photo : Road near Giddah Pahar in Kurseong
Bottom photo: Vehicles held up on the Pankha Bari Road to Siliguri.

Photo credit :STH member of Kurseong Bhushan Chhetri

Praful Rao

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Picture of the day : Landslide on 05Jul2012 (National Highway 31A)

The National Highway linking Siliguri to Gangtok (NH31A) was blocked for almost 8hrs today by this landslide at Berrik. The highway is being widened by the BRTF (Border Roads Task Force) along the entire path.

photo credits : Kundun Yolmo, Siliguri

Praful Rao

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Rainfall data Darjeeling district : Jun2012

From the above data, it is evident that where as Kurseong in Darjeeling district received normal rainfall, the towns of Kalimpong and Darjeeling were running deficient in rain for the second consecutive monsoon month. Jaldhaka which is a tiny hamlet in the foothills bordering the Dooars received its heavy quota of rainfall (which it normally does) and Gangtok in Sikkim also reported 40% higher than normal rain.
We have had no major low pressure areas, depressions or cyclones forming in the Bay of Bengal in 2012.
Also no major landslides in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya in Jun2012.

Praful Rao