Thursday, July 30, 2015

STH Stormwatch : Update on Cyclone Komen (30Jul2015 - Night)

Excerpt from "All India Weather Inference" (2030hrs IST)
"The cyclonic storm 'KOMEN' over northeast Bay of Bengal moved northwestwards and lay centred at 1730 hours IST of today, the 30th July, 2015 close to Bangladesh coast near Lat. 22.4 °N and Long. 91.3° E, about 20 km east of Hatia (Bangladesh).
The cyclonic storm is in the process of crossing Bangladesh coast between Hatia and Sandwip (Bangladesh) as the northern part of the cloud band already lies over land, The entire process of landfall would take a few hours.
After landfall, it would move initially northwestwards and then west­ northwestwards and weaken gradually."

Praful Rao
Dist Darjeeling

STH Stormwatch (30Jul2015) : The depression intensifies : 'Cyclone Komen' is born


STH has been tracking Cyclone KOMEN for several days now, since it first appeared as a low pressure area. This is the first cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal in 2015.
We will continue to post updates.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

STH Stormwatch (Updated tracks of depression in Bay of Bengal) from JTWC and position of depression (IMD) : 29/30Jul2015

The above updates are from here.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

STH Stormwatch : Update on DEEP depression in Bay of Bengal (29Jul2015)

Placed above are images from JTWC (Google Earth) and the latest IR2 image from IMD of the deep depression in the Bay of Bengal.

Excerpt from IMD (0900h, 29July2015)
'The depression over northeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining coastal areas of Bangladesh & West Bengal moved southeastwards, concentrated into a deep depression and lay centred at 0530 hours IST of today, the 29th July, 2015 over north east Bay of Bengal and adjoining areas of Bangladesh near Lat. 21.0 ° N and Long. 91.0 °E, 160 km south­ southwest of Chittagong (Bangladesh). The system would move nearly northward and cross Bangladesh Coast on 30th forenoon between Long. 90.5 °E and 91.5 °E.'

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

NB: Italics are mine.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

STH Stormwatch (25Jul2015) : Low pressure forms in NE Bay of Bengal. (UPDATED 27July2015)

South Bengal has been getting unusually heavy rainfall over the last fortnight or so, unfortunately there seems to be more rainfall in the offing with a low pressure forming in approx the area circled. The low pressure will intensify into a depression soon as per IMD's 'All India Weather Summary and Forecast Bulletin' issued on 25July2015 (night).

Praful Rao
Dist Darjeeling

Update 1.
As per All India Weather Inference (2000h, 26Jul2015 - Sunday)
The Low Pressure has intensified into a depression and may concentrate further into a deep depression. It moved westwards and is now close to Khepupara (Bangladesh). Likely to remain stationary there for some time.
Update 2 (27Jul2015)
The depression has remained stationary and likely to remain so for some time. It may intensify into a deep depression

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Upcoming events : DRR Seminar on ' How safe are our Mountain Habitats?' at Kalimpong on 17Aug2015

With the weather exhibiting mood swings as in a bi-polar disorder, Kalimpong has been reeling under a spate of landslides (see previous blog) and it is therefore apt that we have chosen this town as the venue of a DRR seminar on 'How safe are our Mountain Habitats?'
The seminar is the initiative of the Darjeeling Chapter of InMI ( of which STH is a member)

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Friday, July 17, 2015

Landslides in Kalimpong - A pictoral report (July2015)

On 30Jun/01July2015 torrential rains lashed Kalimpong dumping 227mm of rain in a 8hr period. This triggered numerous landslides both within the municipal limits and in the sub-division. STH did a survey of some of the affected areas which are indicated on the map above. Images from the areas are placed below.

As per the GSI, the Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya is one of the most landslide prone areas in the country and as per Dr David Petley, this area also is one of the global hotspots for fatal landslides.
SaveTheHills (STH) has, in this blog, over the years tried to maintain a historical record of this disaster form which has not received due recognition the world over so as to offer undeniable proof of a scourge which is growing worse in this region as human interference in the mountains increases.
In July2015, after 3 yrs of low landslide activity, we are witnessing a spurt in the number of landslides in Darjeeling district (esp in Kalimpong and Mirik) due to erratic and intense rainfall.
Rainfall records for Kalimpong and this region are placed here ( 1 and 2 ).
What is also clear is almost all the fatalities especially in urban or semi-urban settings are the result of poor or non-existent drainage.
While we have tried to cover many areas of the sub-division in our survey, large areas remain uncharted due to lack of resources and what is shown above is only the tip of the iceberg. (Major landslide areas south of the river Relli have not been included in our survey.)
GPS co-ordinates of all landslide listed are placed below:-

Placemark  Latitude
 27° 4'40.69"N  88°28'57.54"E
 27° 4'57.11"N  88°29'13.31"E
 27° 5'6.11"N  88°29'24.97"E
 27° 4'23.12"N  88°27'17.35"E
 27° 3'28.51"N  88°26'45.02"E
 27° 3'59.18"N  88°28'25.21"E
 27° 2'50.46"N  88°28'52.10"E
 27° 4'23.45"N  88°29'18.64"E
 27° 3'4.14"N  88°26'33.45"E
 27° 4'8.12"N  88°29'38.10"E
 27° 2'42.50"N  88°39'4.80"E
 27° 5'13.50"N  88°39'41.10"E
 27° 5'59.00"N  88°40'56.60"E
 27° 6'16.50"N  88°40'48.40"E
 27° 4'10.20"N  88°38'1.70"E
 26°57'42.60"N 88°41'56.00"E
 27° 3'8.72"N  88°39'19.75"E
 27° 9'34.50"N  88°38'12.50"E

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Erratic and intense rain in Kalimpong

Rainfall in Kalimpong in July2015 has been unusual to say the least.
For one thing we are having heavier showers than Darjeeling or Gangtok which is strange and then days of little or no rain are followed by days when it literally comes down in buckets (see graph above).
This sort peaking of intense showers after the deluge of 30June2015 when approx 13 days of rain came down in about 8hrs is causing huge problems for us. For one thing its downright scary because the heaviest showers are always at night and then today the 74mm rainfall brought down our main road link to Siliguri and the plains at 6th mile (see middle image).
The associated clouding which gave us that rain is seen above.

Rainfall at Darjeeling last night : 31mm
Rainfall at Gangtok last night   :  52mm
Rainfall at Kalimpong last night : 74mm
Total rainfall in Kalimpong from 01Jul2015 till date : 331.4mm
Average rainfall for the SHWB
(Sub-Himalayan W Bengal) and Sikkim for July      : 615.8mm

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Rainfall data Jun2015

The normal rainfall for June in Sub Himalayan W Bengal and Sikkim is 485.2mm and in the first half of Jun2015 we recd very little rainfall. From the 15Jun2015 onwards however, we more than made up in most places. Surprisingly Darjeeling received less than normal rainfall and it is pity that I do not have data for Kurseong or for Mirik (from reliable sources). (See 1 and 2 also)
Over 45 people died in the deluge of 30Jun2015 and many are still missing. In Kalimpong at least, where I have been around, many many places are on the verge of collapse and with still 2 months of rains to go, I am filled with a sense of dread.
Placed below is an image of a landslide on 30Jun2015, it took place quite near my home and it killed a young couple who had just got married.
Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Thursday, July 9, 2015

STH stormwatch : The low pressure moves inland

'The low pressure area over northern parts of Gangetic West Bengal  and adjoining areas of Bihar and Jharkhand persists. Associated upper air cyclonic circulation extending upto 5.8 km above mean sea level also persists. The system would become more marked during next 24 hours'

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

STH stormwatch : Low pressure area forms in the north Bay of Bengal.

"Under the influence, the cyclonic circulation over north Bay of Bengal and  neighbourhood, a low pressure area has formed over north Bay of Bengal and  adjoining coastal areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal"
- Excerpt from the IMD  'All India Weather Summary'.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Monday, July 6, 2015

STH activities : With delegates from the University of Colorado, Denver on study tour of 'Anthropogenic drivers to landslides in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya' (14-26Jun2015)

Dr Andrew Rumbach of College of Architecture and Planning, Colorado University (Denver) has been an old friend of STH, having visited Kalimpong as many as 5 times over the years.
It was a pleasure to have him and 6 students from the University for two weeks doing research on 'Anthropogenic drivers to landslides in the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya'. I am glad that the entire visit went off very well and as planned. It was a tremendous learning experience for us.
I would like to thank the STH volunteers who gave their time to make this visit a success and all my friends at Kalimpong, NBU, Kurseong, Darjeeling and Gangtok who readily volunteered to help us out as resource persons during our outstation and field visits.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Images from Limbu Gaon : Mirik (Kurseong sub-division, Darjeeling)

As per authorities in Ting Ling Tea Estate (T.E), in Mirik they received 13" (330mm) of rainfall between 30Jun and 01Jul2015 and having measured 8.8" (224mm) of rainfall in my Symon's rainfall gauge at Kalimpong for the same period I find that phenomenal amount of rainfall in Mirik wholly believable. As per the authorities I spoke to, 19 deaths are confirmed at Limbu Gaon in the T.E, with 20 casualties being rescued.
The images above of NDRF and other para-military persons taking part in searching for the dead in the landslides were sent to me by Arvind Subba, a young volunteer who is himself taking part in the relief operations there.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling