Sunday, August 31, 2008

In line with the assesment in the previous blog of 26th., there is no further positive development to halt the receding monsoon.

1. The monsoon trough has got even more disorganised, and is now over the Himalayas, almost non-effective. The westhern end of the trough is shifting eastwards.

2. The streamline from Imd shows the Pakistan region as having a north-south trough-not a monsoon trough- and the winds are looping along the trough. North-west India has started getting the "widhrawal" north-west winds.

3. The 200hpa. jet streams, are recurving along the Rajasthan area, and are at present weak over the central India region. In order that the monsoon sustains, they should be strong in a easterly direction.

4. Thunderstorm activity has started over the north Maharashtra/Gujarat areas. Marathwada had heavy thunderstorm rains-5to 8cms. today.

These are indications of a receding monsoon- from the north-west India-due to the absence of any organised monsoon low or depresiions forming. (Though a low vortex is expected to form in the Lakshdweep region in a couple of days, it will produce rain in coastal Karnatak/Kerala for a day or two. It will soon fizzle out at around 15N region by the 3/4th. September. The monsoon widhrawal will still continue in the north.)

Now, I anticipate, the monsoon to recede from Rajasthan in the 1st. week, and thence from Gujarat.

The coming week will result in "hit and miss" heavy thunderstorms in Rajasthan, moving south to Gujarat and Maharashtra. At this rate, the monsoon may widhraw from Gujarat by 2/3 week of September.

The 2nd. week of September should see a sudden rise in temperatures from the "non monsoon regions". Day temperatures could shoot up to 40c in Rajasthan and some cities of Gujarat around mid September.

Mumbai will get a few thunderstorms in the evenings, and if the receding trend continues, monsoon may leave Mumbai/north Maharashtra around the 15th.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The south west monsoon seems to be making a hasty retreat, from its normal widhdrawal region. Its the last week of August, and , according to the winds and the north-south trough over Pakistan, the monsoon seems to have already retreated from the region west of the international border. the Iran/Pakistan coast is getting north-south winds from the land to sea, thus raising the temperatures in region, with Norkundi at 42c.The 925hpa streamline shows a disorganised monsoon trough.
Cola, forecasts a diminishing of rainfall over Rajasthan in the last week of August and a lessening of rains over Gujarat and regions around west M.P. and north Maharashtra in the first week of September. Also, the jet streams at 200hpa levels, show signs of weakening, and forming a high over India at 30N, thus collaborating with the view that the monsoon trough is disintegrating. The west- east jet streams is approaching the 30N region, that is moving south.

If the scene prevails, we are to see a widhrawal of the monsoon from the north-west in the next 10 days, about a week before schedule.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Camp with BNHS to Ladakh: 10th - 18th.August 2008
Ladakh lies in a rain shadow region of the east Kashmir Himalayas with most of the region above 3000 metres. The low rainfall results in a barren "moonscape" and the river valleys are green belts surrounded by snow peaks. The snow peaks, towering 5000-7000 metres, change colour with the changes in the weather and the different hues of the sunrays highlight the peaks.
The people are friendly and mostly follow the Buddhist religion. Refugees from Tibet have swelled the local population, as they find the climate and culture similar to home.
The avifauna is more Palaearctic than Oriental. The diversity of birds is not much as in other parts of India, but some specific species are interesting and worth seeing.
Our first day was at Leh, the capital. It is important to acclimatise for the first 24hrs. as the pressure is low and oxygen in the air is 30% lower than at sea level.
For visitors to Leh, strolling in the local bazaar, observing the varied crowd and looking into the curio shops is an entrancing experience.
In the other direction from the bazaar, around the foot of the palace hill, are the stalls of the Tibetan traders, where you can bargain for pearls, turquoise, coral, and many other semi precious stones.
The palace is in the grand tradition of Tibetan architecture and a miniature version of the Potala in Lhasa. It had 9 storeys, but is now dilapidated and deserted.
Next day was the Hemis Gompa. This largest monastery in Ladakh was built in 1630. It is 45 kms from Leh. It is impressive and different from the other monasteries in Ladakh.
Thiksey monastery was next on the list. It is a fine example of Ladakhi architecture. The main prayer hall has a 15 mts. (50 feet) high-seated Buddha. This 12-storey monastery complex contains many stupas, statues, wall paintings and pillars engraved with Buddha's teachings.
The Indus ghat was another site we visited on the first day.
Day 2 was a trip to the highest motorable road/pass in the world. Khardung La, at 18380 feet, was cold and we experienced a mild snowfall on arrival. A beautiful site with snow all over and near freezing temperatures kept everyone huddled in the canteen, sipping hot Maggi soup.
Camp at the Hemis National Park was memorable. Named after the famous monastery, this park is spread out over 600 sq. kms. It has an altitudinal range of 3300-6000 metres. It is in the catchments of the lower Zanskar river, and part of it is the Sumdah Valley. An abundant treasure of natural beauty with mountains, flatlands, deserts and the fast flowing Indus.
The Park is famous for its rare Snow Leopard, though we were not lucky enough. Our sightings were the Bharal, Ladakh Urial, Tibetan Fox and commonly seen birds like Himalayan Magpie, Citrine Wagtails, Rose Finches, Shrikes, Sparrowhawk, Golden Eagle, Redstarts of 2 types, plenty of Warblers and Hill Pigeons. The Chukar Partridge was an added attraction.
The camp at Tso Moriri was a tough one. This lake, in the Rupshu Valley is at a height of 4500 mtrs. with the most inhospitable weather conditions. We had to brave a night of freezing temperatures along with gale force winds at almost 70 kmph. (Wind chill factor becomes almost -5c). This lake is the breeding ground of Bar Headed Geese. Also seen around the lake were Ruddy Shelduck, Brown Headed Gulls, Sand Plovers, Ibis Bill, Stilts, Terns,
Alpine Swifts, Oriental Dove, Red /Yellow Billed Choughs, Tickells Leaf Warbler and plenty of Hoopoes and Larks. On the way to and from the Tso Moriri we saw the Black Necked Crane. (There are strict directions not to disturb them) the Lammergeyer and the Common Merganser. In the nearby smaller lakes were the Pied Avocets and Northern Pintails.
On the way back to Leh, along the Manali-Leh Highway, we spotted herds of Yaks, Zhos, Tibetan Wild Ass, plenty of Marmots and Pashmina Sheep. We cross the second highest pass in the world, the Tanala La Pass at around 17000 feet and enter the homestretch to Leh.
The fascination of the place, the people, the wildlife and the landscape are reasons enough to venture there and the pictures speak for themselves at this link.

Your views awaited at

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ladakh is the ultimate test for a weather enthusiast ! How difficult it is to predict a days weather is demonstrated by our waking up to a dull gloomy morning at Leh on a Tuesday. The morning temperature being about 12c, you set out accordingly, seeing the low stratus grey clouds. Noon sees bright sunshine, clear with some cumulus clouds, and temperature at lunch time around 25c. Around tea time at 4 p.m. clouds and fog again envelope the hill station and a sharp drop in the real feel temperature is experianced due to strong winds and dust blowing. Late night there was a mild thunderstorm. Next morning clear ! Now this happens in the region without any forecasted system or formations. No weather sysytem or real movements can be predicted. Its all local weather and occurs due to the topography. At one of our camps based at 15000ft., we had evening winds blowing at gale force, almost at 80kmph, and coupled with mild snow, the real feel was unbearable !
Coming back to the sub continent monsoon scene, ast week saw the depression moving across central India. The highlight was the rain in Mahableshwar. On the 10th. and 11th. this station had 44cms. and 49cms of rain on each day respectively! This beats the highest ever rain in a day at Mahableshwar. The previous record was 462mms in a day. I am not able to get the exact amount in mms of the 11th. but 49cms certainly beats the record.
The scene now seems to be looking a bit subdued for the next 8 days. The monsoon trough having moved northwards, and the next low in the bay at least 6/7 days away, rainfall seems on the wane throughout India and the subcontinent for the next 7 days. West coast and Maharashtra seem to in for much drier weather for the weekend, and Mumbai too should have a dry weekend.
We can await a system to emerge in the bay from the latest typhoon, Nuri, in the west Pacific, maybe around 26th. This system is very necassary, as, according to me, it should keep the monsoon "alive" and prevent the reversal of winds ( meaning the W.D.s gaining strenght), in the northwestern sector of the subcontinent.

Link to Ladhak album here

Friday, August 08, 2008

The weak low mentioned in the previous blog moved fast inland from the east coast of India and fizzled out. But not before pouring good amounts of rain along the west coast and the ghat stations of Maharashtra. Mahableshwar got very good rains during the week and the seasonal total is fast getting to the normal figure. The Mahableshwar total is just short of 3000mms as of 8th. morning.
The other low forecasted is now "more marked" and is positioned off the Oriisa coast on 8th. evening. It is possible for the system to gain strenght and move north-west. A slight difference in the monsoon trough position, than anticipated, is seen though. I had estimated the trough to remain in its normal position, but, since yesterday, the western end has moved northwards. As a result, heavy rains were experianced in the Punjab and Delhi on Friday.
Hence, the weekend will see heavy rains in Orissa, M.P.,Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab,and good rains in Gujarat from Sunday, due to the system moving north-west, and the trough off the west coast developing a vortex near the north Maharashtra/Gujarat coast by the weekend. For Mumbai, it will be a wet weekend.
From the 9th., I will be going to Ladakh, with the BNHS camp, hence will be almost out of touch with the weather developments. All of us will be admiring the environmental beauty and nature at its best there. Ladakh camping will be a different world, without internet and mobiles. Shall be back at the blog, with snaps, on the 20th.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The result of the "surprise" W.D. mentioned in the last blog has been sudden and useful rains in Rajasthan and Sind, besides several areas of north-west sub continent. The image below justifies this.
Also, as expected, the normal July rains continued all along the trough line, running thru central India, which included the regions of Gujajrat, Maharashtra, M.P. and southern states of Karnatak and A.P. Resultantly, with good rainfall around Marathwada and A.P.,the deficit rainfall ares are racing towards normalcy.

Image shows the accumalated rainfall of the last 3 days.

I thank Cmdr. Potey from Lonavala for providing me with the rain amounts of Lonavala. The rain at Lonavala which was in the deficit upto 25th. July, suddenly raced towards normal levels, and by the end of July, the total rain from 1st. June there was 2424mms ! Short of Mahableshwar by about 150mms only !
Today, 0n 5th.August, a low pressure is moving fast after entering the east coast of India. It is weakening fast, and is expected to move along the trough line. (The streamline map above shows the troughline as joining the two lows across cental India). Good and moderately heavy rains are expected in the next 2 days along this line, with the west coast, north of kerala, to get rather heavy rains from Wednasday thru Friday. Mumbai may get very heavy rain about Thursday.
After this, a new low is expected on the 9th. in the bay, off the north A.P./Orissa coast. It should move along along the same lines as the current low, as I expect the monsoon trough to remain around the same region for the next 15 days.
A good summing up of the next weeks rain is shown by Ashokbhai in his forecast at

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