Wednesday, May 11, 2022

It's scary when cyclone forecast tracks go awry (Cyclone ASANI -11May2022)

Having tracked cyclones and storms on the internet for decades now, I almost believe forecast tracks these days are infallible - track predictions are so accurate today that it seems that scientists can guide the storm to where ever they want.
So it was strange that in 2022 some track predictions went awry. On 03Mar and 22Mar2022 two depressions which were supposed to intensify into cyclones in the Bay of Bengal withered away and never became cyclones.
Now Cyclone ASANI which was supposed to head to towards the north Bay of Bengal has steadfastly remained anchored to south east of VIZAG (as on time and date of writing). JTWC has changed its forecast track and seems more or less correct now. IMD forecasts still predict movement towards the northeast - which may eventually be correct but not in the time span predicted.
So my faith in the total infallibility of storm track predictions is suddenly shaken.

So there was a goof up

Update: ASANI - A cyclone with a mind of its own

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Sunday, May 8, 2022

STH Stormwatch : First REAL CYCLONE in the Bay 'ASANI' is born

 As earlier said, STH uses WhatsApp, a very popular and versatile social media platform to disseminate information and warnings on hazards in this area as such our activity on this blog is minimal and restricted to disbursing rainfall records, information on major landslide activity and keeping a record of STH activities.
As regards storms in the Bay of Bengal, two earlier depressions which we made note of, fizzled out and never became full blown cyclones. In fact the one which dissipated over Myanmar on 23Mar2022 was supposed to have become Cyclone ASANI.
We are tracking and updating members of STH's HAZARD ALERT WhatsApp group continuously on the progress of the cyclone.

Update on the Cyclone tracks

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya 

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Rainfall data of Mar 2022 of some towns in the Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya

 As has been the noticeable trend, rainfall was severely deficient in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts whereas all of Sikkim had much better rain in Mar2022

Forecasts for two depressions maturing into cyclonic storms in the Bay in Mar2022 proved erroneous and the storms remained as depressions.

With deficient rain our region remained very dry resulting in a number of forest and other fires.

Praful Rao and Ms Shreya Gurung of STH
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Friday, March 18, 2022

STH activities: Raising awareness on Disaster Risk among common people and our Stormwatch (Early Warning) Activities

 Responding to the above invite, I talked on disaster risk, changing rainfall patterns and how to convert a smart phone into an effective early warning device. The meeting was attended by 30 odd officials, staff and workers from the Sericulture Research Station and from an agricultural institute.
STH stormwatch activities
Though this activity is not featured in this blog as actively as earlier, STH has been more than active in social media mainly in our What's App group called HAZARD ALERTS (1 &2).
Placed below are some images of an earlier storm we tracked in the first week of March and another one which is still intensifying in the Bay and will eventually become a cyclone in another 3 days time.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong District
Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalayas

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Rainfall data of Feb2022 of some towns in the Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya



Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, February 26, 2022

SaveTheHills activity: Workshop in a remote village school on 'How to be better prepared for disasters in 2022' (25Feb2022)

Manzing (Pokhriabong GP, Gorubathan Block of Kalimpong district) is a remote village located almost 20kms south east of Kalimpong.
On 25Feb2022 while attending a workshop organized by Anugyalaya DSSS there, it took us 3 hours to reach the High School where the program was organized. I traveled with a group of Fire Brigade personnel who had a demo and talk on Fire Fighting.

My thanks to Mr Sudip Bomzon of Anugyalaya for organizing the workshop and I have added
Mr Praveen Ghising, Head Master of the Pokhriabong High School (Gorubathan) to 'Hazard Alerts' our Whats App group so that he can pass on our warnings and weather information to the children and staff.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong District
Darjeeling Sikkim Himalaya

Sunday, February 20, 2022

SaveTheHills activitiy: In person workshop on 'Landslides and Environmental Issues of the Region) at DISHA Center, Kalimpong -18/19Feb2022

Raising awareness on the severe landslide problem of this region and other environmental issues of the Himalayas has always been one of STH's main roles and so we have carried out literally hundreds of awareness programs not only in this region but also in Delhi, Kolkata, Gauhati and so on (all documented in this blog).
The COVID pandemic put an abrupt stop to our in person meetings but we did carry on using various online platforms.
With the pandemic restrictions being eased, we have resumed our outreach programs and this was one such event.

We have featured the landslides in Sindebung in many earlier blog reports (see 1, 2) besides taking media people, scientists, students and govt officials to the site.
I visited the village after several years, because of COVID restrictions and I was astonished to see the huge numbers of large new buildings and homes which have come up in the area but the plight of the landslide affected people remain unchanged.
I felt a sense of guilt, anguish and helplessness when the villagers who's homes are on the edge of the landslide  again asked me to do 'something', lest all their assets and belongings disappear.

Praful Rao and the STH team
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Jan2022 weather over the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Hailed, rained in Mirik, Kurseong (46mm), Darjeeling (3.2mm), Kpg (2mm), Gtk (1mm)
Rained in Kolkata.

Rained in Kurseong, Mirik
Light rain in Kalimpong
Jaldhaka (5.4mm), Kurseong (18.4mm), Darj (1mm)
Light rain in Kalimpong, Jaldhaka (2.8mm)
Jaldhaka (2.2mm)
Jaldhaka (14.8mm)
Jaldhaka (22.4mm)

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Monday, February 7, 2022

SaveTheHills activities in 2021 - landslide surveys

One of the most important roles of STH over the years is to document landslide occurrences in our region so that this information though not technical in nature is available to scholars, government departments and others.
Unfortunately, due to the lockdowns and restrictions imposed during COVID peaks we could not carry out these surveys in landslide affected areas very far from Kalimpong however, our Whats App group 'Hazard Alerts' proved extremely useful as a crowd sourced information hub where people reported landslides and heavy rain as they occurred and we were able to record these events in our database.

03Jan2021 : A visit to Mungpel village

See here for details

17April2021: Reporting a lightning strike
Hanuman Mandir, Kalimpong

04Jul2021: Landslide survey around Kalimpong town

22Jul2021: Survey around areas NE of Kalimpong town ie Algarah town

Algarah is satellite town located approx 15km NE of Kalimpong. It has long had a serious  subsidence problem and each year a central part of the town literally sinks. We surveyed the road to Algarah  (which has numerous subsidence zones) and the areas in the vicinity.

31Jul2021: Survey of landslide affected areas in Kalimpong after extreme rainfall of 29Jul

We had some of the heaviest rainfall of the monsoons in July 2021 and that resulted in a large number of landslides in Kalimpong on 30Jul2021. We surveyed the affected areas.

This 👆 is undoubtedly one of the largest landslide in the entire Darjeeling - Kalimpong district.

06Aug2021: Berrick dara (NH10)

After a report on the local media (Kalimpong TV) that a large landslide at Berrick Dara on NH10, was causing instability and cracks to the homes of Berrick village we made a visit to the place on 06Aug2021.
Berrick on NH10 has had a long standing problem with landslides.

25Sep2021: Landside Survey in Kurseong with GSI Team

STH member Mr Sachin Tamang from Kurseong (Darjeeling district) was with GSI team surveying landslides along NH110 at Sukna, Tindharia, Pagla Jhora and Kurseong

02Oct2021 : Landslide Survey in Kalimpong district with GSI Team

I have participated in many landslide surveys with the GSI over the years and it was a pleasure to be with geologists Sumit and Ankur  during their visit to Kalimpong district.

Surveying NH10 from Teesta to Rangpo and back via Munsong

28Oct2021: Surveying the landslides along NH717A

The deluge of 18/19Oct2021 caused a large number of landslides along the NH717A, a highway being constructed as an alternate to NH10. 

Fatal landslide at Darjeeling SDO's quarters.

The landslide which damaged part of the SDO Darjeeling quarters (which lies above  the  District Magistrate's office and below Raj Bhavan) occurred on 19Oct2021. The watchman (chowkidar) died when he was buried by the slide. 

Many of the surveys are covered in more detail in this blog (pl check blog for the month and date).
Otherwise thanks to Ms Shreya Gurung of STH, we have a data base of landslides where we have recorded the coordinates/rainfall/ damage caused by the landslide. They are here

Landslide catalogue

Landslide Survey on NH717A done on 28Oct2021

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalayas