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

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The deluge of 30Jun/01Jul2015 : Darjeeling- Sikkim Himalaya

As on date the death toll has crossed 40 with approx 30 deaths being reported from Tingling Tea Estate (Limbu Gaon) and 5 deaths from around Mirik town. Local residents of Mirik where all these deaths occurred state faulty drainage as cause of the landslides.
8 people died in Kalimpong subdivision.

Photo credit : Sachin Tamang, Kurseong

Praful Rao
Dist Darjeeling

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

01Jul2015 : 226mm of torrential rain over a 6 hr period in Darjeeling district

For a hellish 6 hr period Darjeeling district especially Kalimpong was pummeled by torrents of rain starting from approximately 2000hrs.
I watched the clouding as it formed over us and remained almost stationery much like the clouding over Uttarakhand in 2013. Kalimpong received almost half (226mm)the entire July month's average rainfall (548.7mm) in the 6hrs and it is confirmed that that there have been at least 6 deaths in Kalimpong, numerous landslides and all the road links from Kalimpong to Siliguri are now cut off by slides.
The worst part is we have at least 3 months of rainfall ahead.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Landslide blocks National Highway (NH) 10 (Siliguri-Gangtok) causes massive traffic jams on NH55

With NH10 (formerly31A) blocked by the slide above, literally hundreds of vehicles mainly to Sikkim and Darjeeling scrambled up NH55 yesterday and today causing massive traffic snarls some almost lasting 6-9 hrs.
Read more here

Photo credit : Mr Kundan Yolmo (Telegraph)

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Saturday, June 20, 2015

STH stormwatch : First depression of 2015 in the Bay of Bengal

'The depression over northwest & adjoining westcentral Bay of Bengal off north Andhra Pradesh­south Odisha coast moved northwestwards during past 3 hours and lay centred at 1730 hours IST of today, near Lat. 18.5°N and Long.85.5°E, about 150 km south of Puri.
The system would move northwestwards and cross Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Puri by tomorrow forenoon.'
- IMetD

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Friday, June 12, 2015

Amidst earthquakes, now landslides : Nepal (11June2015)

Sadly the grim predictions (see 1 & 2) are coming true. Even as Nepal continues to be rocked by aftershocks (map) landslides triggered by rains have killed more than 41 people in the north east of the country.
The worst part is the rains are not due to the SW monsoons which are yet to arrive over the region and are caused by the numerous western disturbances which have been sweeping down the Himalayas.
I have been tracking these rain clouds daily, wondering in helpless bewilderment when the misery of millions affected by the quakes and now the landslides, in Nepal will end.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Monday, June 8, 2015

STH Stormwatch : Reporting Cyclone 'Ashobaa', the first cyclone of 2015 in Northern Indian Ocean

Tracks in Arabian Sea are from here
Till date no low pressure/depression or cyclone has formed in the Bay of Bengal.

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Useful websites for Earthquake data and Weather monitoring

a. IMD gives details on latest quake and also an inventory of quakes in current and previous month here
b. USGS has a huge amount of data on quakes here and you can get details on the latest quake along with a map here
I used these sites extensively during the recent Nepal Earthquakes and I found the quake reports being posted within minutes of the occurrence.
c. You can try this ArcGIS site for some maps and info (Nepal Quakes)
a. IMD has recently updated its website and put in a wealth of information :-
i. It has a ticker where you can register for cyclone alerts by SMS here. I tried registering myself but it did NOT quite work (hope it is a glitch which they will iron out soon).
ii. From this year onwards, IMD has a special weather forecast for the mountainous regions of the Western Himalayas here. While this is wonderful, I wonder when they will have something similar for the Eastern Himalayas as well.
iii. You can get your actual rainfall data etc from the Automatic Weather Stations and Automatic Rainfall Gauges almost on a real time basis here. A word of caution - many stations are not working or give wrong data!
iv. The satellite imagery page has undergone major changes with tons of data which are meant and can be understood only by a meteorologist. However, this is my absolute favorite where you can see cloud movements taking place almost as it is happening! The 'refresh' button updates the timing of the imagery. Please remember these are IR images.
b. It is worthwhile checking the websites of meteorological departments of our neighbours Pakistan and Bangladesh which also have satellite images, as well a host of other data.
c. The US Navy's JTWC is perhaps the best website for tracks of any cyclone/hurricane or typhoons which is also linked to Google Earth.
d. Last but not least you can look up our blog, where you will find the monthly rainfall data for the last four years of many stations in the Darjeeling-Sikkim Himalaya. Also as a part of the 'STH stormwatch' series we publish early/advance warning, tracks and other data on adverse weather phenomenon for this region as soon as we detect it on websites  - which implies that our service is totally internet based and will not function if the network malfunctions.
Comment by Praful Rao
If you know of other websites (and I am sure there must be a myriad other sites) which provide reliable early warning/ data/ information on hazards esp for this region which can be used to save lives, please share the same with us.
Contact us at

Praful Rao,
Dist Darjeeling