Sikkim Cloud Burst

Sikkim is a northeastern state in India, bordered by Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. The region boasts of the magnificent Kangchenjunga, which is a part of the Himalayas and stands at 8,586 meters. It is considered the highest mountain in India. Additionally, Sikkim is home to glaciers, alpine meadows, and a variety of wildflowers. Due to its rugged and rocky topography and location in an area where the Indian monsoon interacts with the Himalayan mountains, Sikkim is prone to cloudbursts.

Due to a sudden rainfall, the scenic landscape of Sikkim has transformed into a harrowing incident.

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Why are cloudburst incidents increasing?

According to the India Meteorological Department, there was a significant amount of rainfall in Sikkim between 8 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday. On October 3 around midnight, a flood was reported by the Central Water Commission, On October 4, at approximately one in the morning, Chungthang reported hearing about significant Teesta River flooding. by 2.30 pm. The precipitation was over five times the average amount expected at this time. Specifically, East Sikkim received 15 times the typical rainfall; while South Sikkim experienced 33 times the normal amount. The rainfall is forecasted to continue until October 6.


What is Cloud Burst?

A cloudburst is a meteorological phenomenon that causes a rapid, intense deluge of rain over a limited region in a short time. These downpours often provoke flash floods, landslides, property damage, many losses of lives, and other weather-related tragedies.

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If an area of 20 to 30 square kilometres experiences rainfall of over 100 mm or 10 cm per hour, it is considered a cloudburst. In India, the criteria for measuring rainfall is at least 10 cm per hour over a distance of 10 km. Therefore, if 5 cm of rain falls in 30 minutes, it would also be considered a cloudburst according to this definition. This is uncommon in India.

Cloudbursts often occur particularly in hilly and mountainous areas where the landscape is more prone to landslides and flash floods due to the quick flow of precipitation; cloudbursts can have deadly impacts. Some areas in India that tend to cloudbursts include Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and parts of the Western Ghats. 


Cloudburst Impact on Sikkim

  • According to the latest updates, heavy rainfall in Sikkim has resulted in the loss of 10 lives and more than 80 people are missing, including 23 Army personnel.
  • Many properties, land, and buildings have been destroyed, and connectivity has been disrupted due to damage to mobile towers, cables, and fibre lines.
  • Due to this cloud burst huge impacts happen on local communities, causing loss of life and property damage, disrupting transportation and communication, and leading to the loss of crops and livestock.



Reasons for Outburst in Sikkim 

  • The primary reason for flash floods at South Lhonak Lake in North Sikkim appears to be excessive rainfall and glacial lake outbursts as per the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
  • Another reason is the Chungthang Dam’s water discharge caused a rapid rise in water levels of up to 15-20 feet downstream.
  • Scientists are trying to determine if the Nepal earthquake caused the Sikkim flash floods, but no conclusive evidence has been found.



  • The flash flood damage was evaluated in Singtam by Chief Minister PS Tamang. At the Singtam Nagar Panchayat office, he also spoke with senior officials and requested that they maintain vigilance.
  • Temporary Relief Camp set up in Namchi District
  • Multiple rescue operations are run by govt

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Source: Indian Express