Sunday, April 14, 2024

Our adverse weather early warning work on What'sApp groups in the Darjeeling- SIkkim region: Thunderstorms of 11/12Apr2024 in Kalimpong

After the Teesta Valley GLOF of 04Oct2023, our region has been extraordinarily dry, with the erratic western disturbance activity in the winter months, robbing us of all our winter rain. In Kalimpong we had the first showers after Oct2023, between 19 & 27Mar2024 where we clocked 112.6mm. Thereafter, it has been dry with forest fires again starting in the Teesta Valley.
With regard to early warnings on adverse weather events and disbursement of information on landslides, road blocks etc, SaveTheHills has been running several very active and large What'sApp groups in the Darjeeling-Sikkim region called 'Hazard Alerts or HA' for many years now and the following cloud image on approaching adverse weather was posted in the group on 11Apr2024:

This image was posted on 'Hazard Alerts' WhatsApp group at 1.31pm on 11Apr2024 along with lightning warnings from the IMD 'Damini' (lightning warning) app. Shortly after this was done, the first storm hit our region at around 2.30pm. Wind speeds in gusts reached upto 58kmph.

This storm died down momentarily at around 4.30pm only to pick up again quickly. The following cloud image along with NOWCASTs from IMD were posted to members in the 'Hazard Alerts' What'sApp groups.
Warning posted at 5.36pm to our WhatsApp groups alerting them about another storm which was approaching.
Subsequent cloud images which show the progress of the storm from 6.45pm to 10.45pm on 11April2024

The thunderstorm which hit Kalimpong at 2.30pm on 11April2024, raged right thru the night and only ceased at around 8.00am on 12Apil2024. Surprisingly, we had only 2mm of rain however strong, gusty, westerly winds from Nepal along with lightning prevailed for more than 12hrs. The graphical analysis of the windspeed from our Davis Vantage Pro AWS is placed below:

Though there were no casualties or damage from the storm, what was unusual was its duration considering there was no major weather system (such as a depression/cyclone) near by.
Also what is possible today is to get reliable and accurate information of such weather events in advance and to disburse the same quickly to a large number of people. We have been doing this regularly in WhatsApp since Jun 2016.

Praful Rao
Kalimpong district
Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya

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