Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Extraordinary high intensity and very localized rainfall of 29Aug2023 at Kalimpong

Meteorological conditions
28Aug2023 was a cloudy day and except for a little early morning rain, it was dry in Kalimpong. We even had a rare 'NO WARNING' for Sub-Himalayan West Bengal (SHWB) and Sikkim.

Cloud images showed fairly settled weather in our region through the day - even until 8.15pm on 28Aug2023, when I put a last post in 'Hazard Alerts' our What's App 'Early Warning' group in the Darj-Sikkim region.
                  Above image shows no major clouding in the area circled.

The clouding suddenly increased thereafter, as seen in the IR Image of 11.45pm of 28Aug2023:
              Notice the clouding which has suddenly appeared below Kalimpong

Nowcast issued by IMD is placed below

Rainfall of 29Aug2023 morning
We had sudden and very intense rainfall starting from 1.30am with peak intensities crossing 135mm/hr. The rainfall amount was 79.2mm in a very short time.
The screenshot of Damini (Lightning Alert app) showing no lightning at 3.06am in our area is below
And at 3.45am, with the rainfall declining over Kalimpong, the clouding vanished, just as quickly as it had appeared.
What is amazing in this event, besides the extremely sharp increase and decrease of rain intensity, is that it rained only over Kalimpong.
Adjoining towns of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Todey (where there are Davis automatic weather stations) had ZERO rainfall


Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Kalimpong Himalaya


Saturday, August 26, 2023

Extraordinary rains on 24/25Aug2023 in the Darjeeling - Sikkim Himalaya

 Meteorological conditions

Satellite images
Early Warning
We had an 'Orange Alert' for heavy rain in our region

which was upgraded to a 'Red Warning' on 25Aug2023.

Rainfall data

Landslides and other images

Media Report

Excerpt from the Millenium Post (25Aug2023)
Amitava Banerjee

Darjeeling: Incessant rain triggered landslides in the Hills claiming the life of a 59-year-old in Darjeeling. A three-and-a-half-year-old also lost his life in a landslide in Sikkim. Numerous landslides occurred in Darjeeling owing to the continuous heavy rainfall. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a “Red” alert for Saturday followed by a “Yellow” on Sunday. The rise in the water level of River Teesta in the Kalimpong district has emerged as a major cause of concern. 15 families have been shifted from the vulnerable areas- banks of the River Teesta. “59-year-old Baburam Rai died in a landslide in Puttabong tea estate under the Rangit-1 Gram Panchayat, Bijanbari block, Darjeeling,” stated S Ponnambalam, District Magistrate, Darjeeling.

A landslide occurred at around 7 am in the Guest House area of Puttabong on Friday. The houses of Baburam Rai and Uttam Rai were totally damaged in the slide. Baburam was also buried below the debris. Fire brigade, police and local residents later managed to recover his body. A landslide occurred at Bangladanra in Rungbul on the National Highway 55 to Siliguri at around 9 am. Two huge uprooted trees blocked the National Highway, bringing traffic to a standstill. The trees were removed and debris cleared with traffic resuming around 11 am. Rimbik was cut off for a while with both the roads connecting Rimbik blocked by landslides. A slide occurred at Khopeydanra at around 6 am cutting off Rimbik from Maneybhanjyang. The road connecting to 3rd Mile was also blocked owing to an uprooted tree. Work was on to clear the road.

One shop belonging to Jayram was totally damaged along with around 11 houses partially damaged owing to a landslide in Gudamdhura, in Tamansang under Sukhiapokhari, Jorebungalow. Sandeep Chhetri, GTA Sabhasad of Marybong Tamsang had a narrow escape when his vehicle turned turtle while on a visit to landslide affected areas near Lingia Tea Estate Factory. The Sabhasad suffered minor bruises while his driver also escaped unhurt. The IMD issuing a “Red” rainfall warning has forecasted heavy to very heavy rainfall (7-20cm) at one or two places coupled with thunderstorms and lightning in the districts of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri on Saturday.

My thanks to members of 'Hazard Alerts' our Whats App group for the information on landslides.

 Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Working at the grass roots: An Anugyalaya (DDSSS) workshop on disaster risk with panchayat level people in Kalimpong (22Aug2023)

Generating awareness on disaster risk especially with rural people has always been our forte and yesterday we had the opportunity to talk with 70 odd people mainly from Sindebong and Bhalukhop bustee (village) areas. 

Among them were many of the newly elected gram panchayat members, members of the samaj (community), ASHA workers and SHG heads of the 2 villages.
I had shared the 3 hour event with Ms Kaveri Subba, BDMO ( Block Disaster Management Officer) of Kalimpong Block -1 (seated with me in front) and the workshop was moderated and organized by Ms Aachal Tamang (extreme left), member of both SaveTheHills and Anugyglaya DDSSS.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Himachal disaster of Aug2023

It was not a bumper to bumper deluge in Himachal Pradesh (& Uttarakhand) but the rains of 14Aug2023 came close enough to the floods and landslides of Jul2023
The satellite image and moisture incursion images which STH posted at 630.am on 14Aug2023 in its WhatsApp group proved rather prophetic, in view of the disaster which was to follow in Himachal later:

Meteorological conditions
Though the met. conditions which led to the intense rainfall were similar to that which occurred in July, Dr Dave Petley whom I consulted gave a rather interesting reason for the landslides which took place:
Me:  Is the western disturbance/ monsoon current combination in the NW Himalayas   responsible for this intensity of rain? 
• We get more rainfall in the eastern Himalayas but landslide disasters are more frequent in Himachal and Uttarakhand these days.
Dave:Often landslides are triggered by the variation from the mean intensity for a location more than the intensity itself. I guess the landscape is more adapted to very extreme rain in the east than in the west. HP and Uttarakhand seem to get repeated events that exceed the mean by a long way now.
Rainfall data

Significant rainfall recorded (in cm):
✓ Uttarakhand:
Dehradun: Rishikesh-42, Sahastradhara-25, Uni, Mussoorie, Raiwala-19 each, Mohkampur-18, Jollygrant-17, Chakrata- 8, Haripur-7, PAURI GARHWAL: Lansdown-17, Yamkeshwar-15, Kotdwar-11, Rikhnikhal-10, Satpuli- 9, Srinagar -7; CHAMPAWAT: Chalthi-16, Bastia-14, Tanakpur- 10, Champawat-9, Champawat-8, Lohaghat-7; TEHRI GARHWAL:
Rani_Chawri-15, Tehri-12, Devprayag-14, Koteshwer, Narendranagar-8 each, Dhanolti, Ghansali-7 each; BAGESHWAR: Liti-16, Song-8, Kanda-7, UDHAM SINGH NAGAR: Jaspur-10; PITHORAGARH: Didihat-8, Berinag, Jauljibi-7 each,
✓ Himachal Pradesh:
Kangra (dist Kangra) 27, Sujanpur Tira (dist Hamirpur) 25, Dharmsala (dist
Kangra) 25, Palampur (dist Kangra) 22, Guler (dist Kangra) 19, Jogindarnagar (dist Mandi) 18, Nagrota Surian (dist Kangra) 18, Kataula (dist Mandi) 17, Sundarnagar (dist Mandi) 17, Baldwara (dist Mandi) 15, Mandi (dist Mandi) 14, Shimla (dist Shimla) 13, Dharmshala (dist Kangra) 13, Barthin (dist Bilaspur) 13, Simla (dist Shimla) 13, Berthin (dist Bilaspur) 12, Gohar (dist Mandi) 12, Nahan (dist Sirmaur) 11, Ghumarwin (dist Bilaspur) 10, Kasauli (dist Solan) 10, Paonta (dist Sirmaur) 9, Dalhousi Alha (dist Chamba) 8, Nadaun (dist Hamirpur) 8, Bilaspur Sadar (dist Bilaspur) 8, Arki (dist Solan) 8, Kufri Aws (dist Shimla) 8, Mashobra (dist Shimla) 7, Aghar (dist Hamirpur) 7, Rohru (distShimla) 7, Mehre (barsar) (dist Hamirpur) 7, Kandaghat (dist Solan) 7
Early warning:
The rainfall forecast together with antecedent rainfall should have been important indicators of the disaster which followed plus IIT Mandi had been working on a sensor base LEWS (Landslide Early Warning System) project for some years now. Placed below is an image of the early warning which is available online from the NRSC website:

Disaster Details
Much information is available in YouTube and in the media on the disaster. STH is awaiting for more specific inputs besides those already available. What is known is that more than 50 persons perished in yesterdays' rainfall and the landslides which followed.
Will keep posting updates as and when available.

Update on the landslides.
See here for Dr Dave Petley's post on the '14August Landslides in Himachal'

Update on the road situation as on 16Aug2023.
Road Situation Report  upto  1900  Hrs. –
1) NH 21 Mandi-Kullu Via Pandoh road blocked at various places due to land sliding.
2) Mandi-Kullu via Kataula road closed due to restoration work till 10 Am tomorrow.
3) Sundernagar- Chail Chowk –Gohar- Kullu road  through upto Pandoh for LMV only and Pandoh to Aut blocked at Kainchi Mor (near Pandoh Dam)  due to heavy sliding.
4) NH 21 Mandi –Sundernagar -Slapper  and four lane via Dehar road through  .
 5) Mandi to Karsog via Rohanda blocked due to land sliding, Karsog to Luhri road blocked at Kotlu/Shilh and Karsog to Shimla Road through.
6) Mandi to Dharampur blocked at Saroli and Dharampur to sandhol road blocked at Sarari, Sakloh due to land sliding.
7)  Mandi to Sarkaghat blocked at Durgapur  and Sarkaghat to Dharampur  road through via Paplog.
8) NH 154 Mandi –Padhar  road through for LMV via Diana park.
9) Nerchowk-Kalkhar , rewalsar  road  blocked at various places  due to land sliding.
10) Mandi to Janjehli road blocked at various places due to landsliding and Janjehli-Karsog via Raigarh blocked due to land sliding and janjehli  to chatri road blocked at Magru gala.
Weather Cloudy.

Update from NDTV (17Aug2023)

At least 71 people have died in the past three days and 13 are still missing in Himachal Pradesh after devastating rains pounded the state, with Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu terming the work of rebuilding infrastructure a "mountain-like challenge". The death count from landslides and flashfloods jumped on Wednesday as rescuers pulled out more bodies from the rubble of collapsed buildings, officials said. Heavy rains have battered the hill state since Sunday, triggering landslides in several districts including Shimla where three areas -- Summer Hill, Fagli and Krishna Nagar -- are badly hit by landslips.
"At least 71 people have died in the past three days and 13 are still missing. As many as 57 bodies have been recovered since Sunday night," Principal Secretary (Revenue) Onkar Chand Sharma said.
Earlier, Chief Minister Sukhu said that about 60 people have died since Sunday night.
In an interview with PTI, Mr Sukhu said his state will take a year to rebuild the infrastructure wrecked by the heavy rains this monsoon and claimed that the estimated loss in the two devastating spells of heavy rains - this week and in July - is about ₹ 10,000 crore.
The chief minister said it takes time to rebuild roads and water projects. But the government is speeding up the process. "We have to get the infrastructure fully restored within a year. I am working with this in mind." "It's a big challenge, a mountain-like challenge," he said. According to the state emergency operation centre, in total 214 people have died in the rain-related incidents in the state since the onset of monsoon on June 24 while 38 are still missing.
"Rescue operations are going on in Summer Hill and Krishna Nagar areas...one body was recovered from Summer Hill site," Shimla Deputy Commissioner Aditya Negi told PTI. He said so far 13 bodies have been recovered from Summer Hill, five from Fagli and two from Krishna Nagar. Some bodies are still feared buried in the debris of the Shiva temple at Summer Hill that collapsed on Monday. About 15 houses in Krishna Nagar have been vacated and the families shifted to safer places. Several others have vacated their homes themselves fearing slides due to incessant rains.The Education department had ordered closure of all schools and colleges in the state on Wednesday due to inclement weather and the Himachal Pradesh University has suspended teaching activities till August 19.About 800 roads are blocked in the state and the losses suffered by the state since the onset of monsoon on June 24 have crossed ₹ 7,480 crore, officials said, adding as many as 10,714 houses have been completely or partially damaged so far.Deputy Chief Minister Mukesh Agnihotri has urged the Centre to declare national calamity in Himachal Pradesh and release ₹ 2,000 crore for restoration works.

 Update from The Statesman (20Aug2023)

Update from NDTV (21Aug2023)
Ten people, who were trapped in a reservoir in Himachal Pradesh since last evening, have been rescued, officials said.
Officials said their boat got stuck in the Kol Dam reservoir in Mandi yesterday due to rise in water levels following incessant rain.
Five of those who were stuck in the reservoir are employees of the forest department, they said.
A team of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) was rushed to the spot after locals informed the police about the incident.
More than 338 people have died in Himachal Pradesh in rain-related incidents since the onset of Monsoon this year, while 38 people are missing, according to the state emergency operation centre.
Incessant rain has led to landslides, cloudburst, and flash floods, causing significant damage in the State. The government of Himachal Pradesh has declared the whole state as a 'natural calamity affected area'.
According to the latest information provided by the state government, the total monetary loss in Himachal has reached ₹ 8,014.61 crore since June 24.
Update about Himachal landslide of 24Aug2023

From Dr Dave Petley's blog

Update about Himachal landslide of 31Aug2023

Update about Himachal landslide of 03Sep2023

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Heavy rains in the Darjeeling-Kalimpong region on 08/09Aug2023.

The meteorological conditions which led to the heavy rains are given below:

The satellite images of 08/09August2023 which were posted in our What's App group are shown:

In Kalimpong, the rains started at around 7pm and continued through the night even though the intensity was less around midnight. The rainfall intensity graph from a Davis Vantage Pro2 AWS at my home in Tirpai, Kalimpong is given below:

Unlike the localized rains of 01Aug2023, rainfall on 09Aug occurred over larger area  and included the towns of Darjeeling and Kurseong. The rainfall distribution map is given below:
The heavy rains 01Aug2023 (165.4mm) and that of 08Aug2023 (131.2mm) together add up to 296.6mm against a monthly rainfall in Aug of 495.2mm - as such we received 59.89% of our monthly rain in just two days.
Landslides were reported in
Kalimpong - Echay bustee
Darjeeling - Rimbick
Darjeeling- Pul Bazar

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Rainfall data (July2023) of some towns in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya.

In July2023, the monsoon advance and covered the entire country.
Quite clearly:
  • Rainfall was deficient in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and even Kurseong region. All three towns had very little rain in the latter half of July2023.
  • The foothills of Kalimpong district, ie Gorubathan, Jaldhaka, Mangzing, Jholung had a huge surplus in rainfall.
  • Gangtok and Mangan also had excess rainfall, whereas Dentam went severely deficient.
  • As such, the towns in the plains ie Jalpaiguri and Siliguri had significantly more rainfall compared to the hill towns.

    Praful Rao,
    Kalimpong district,
    Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Highly localized, extreme rainfall in Kalimpong :01Aug2023

With a deep depression in the north Bay, 01Aug2023 started off in North Bengal and Kalimpong as a warm, dry day and remained so most of the day. There was little indication of the severe weather which was looming in the evening and IMD had issued only a YELLOW warning for our region.
The first patches of cumulonimbus clouds appeared in the satellite image at 5.45pm.

Thundershowers started around 6.30pm and continued nonstop till 11.30pm. Rainfall intensities remained high as can be seen from the graph.
What was very surprising was that the rainfall was very localized with the precipitation only occurring in Kalimpong. Other towns in the vicinity had the normal expected rain - only Jhalong and Rongo in the far east of Kalimpong district showed the extreme rain as was experienced in Kalimpong.
Even though landslides did occur, their prevalence was not high - perhaps because of the meagre rainfall received in north Bengal in the latter half of Jul2023 and the consequent decrease in the moisture content of the soil.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling Sikkim Himalaya

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

STH Storm Watch: Tropical Cyclone 04B in the north Bay of Bengal (01Aug2023)

 Whereas JTWC has issued Warning No 2 for 'Tropical Cyclone 04B (with tracks)' in the north Bay of Bengal, IMD still categorizes the storm as a 'deep depression' and the track is shown below:
In the morning, only an 'Orange' warning for heavy rain had been issued for S Bengal which has been upgraded at around 10.30hrs to RED warning for some areas of S Bengal and Odisha.

Updated track of the storm at 2pm/01Aug2023

Hope the storm intensity and rainfall remains within manageable limits, because the projected track passes over densely populated areas of S Bengal.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya