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Had tornado hit Bara- Parsa, Southern Nepal? Meteorologists are not sure

By Purushottam P. Khatri, KATHMANDU: Clueless over the March 31 windstorm that lashed the two Terai districts, meteorologists have still been burning their mid-night oil to find out reality about the storm that killed at least 28 persons.
The meteorologists have said that they would make their findings public in a few days’ time.
The powerful storm is yet to be given a proper name though a debate has erupted whether the storm merits to be called a tornado.
As the ravaging storm was not given a proper name, the meteorologists of Nepal had said that they had experienced such scale of disaster for the first time, Director General Saraju Baidhya told The Rising Nepal over telephone.
A six-member technical team led by the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) and additional three from International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and Small Earth Nepal, reached the storm-hit districts on Wednesday and arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday night (April 7), Baidhya said.
The field observation team was led by DHM’s meteorologist Dr. Archana Shrestha, he said. The two meteorologists from ICIMOD and one from The Small Earth Nepal had gone for the field survey.
“The report has not yet arrived at the DHM. We will discuss and analyse the available data collected from the field and satellite images among all the concerned meteorologists and experts, and make it public within two-three days,” Baidhya said.
Preliminary studies and investigations have shown that March 31 storm could not be considered a general storm that lashes the Terai area during the current period but this might be the part of a tornado, which might have left the impact experienced in Bara district.
“We are still in confusion that if we term this system a tornado, this could not be completely called a tornado because tornadoes often cause destruction and devastation in their trails in vast swathe of land but this has not been the case here,” senior Meteorologist Min Kumar Aryal, said.
“I would rather prefer calling it as a ‘small tornado-like system’ which does not normally touch the ground. The system that developed in Bara and Parsa had hit the areas up from the sky-level without touching the ground,” he said.
Additionally, the impact of the system was felt in small diameter and location, he said.
“Had it been a tornado, its impact would have been in much larger in scale with greater impact and intensity,” said Aryal.
“We will also find a suitable name for the catastrophe that killed a large number of people within a few minutes. This is the first ever incident in the history of meteorological sciences in Nepal,” he said.
The technical team has assumed that the possible tornado might be 35 km in length and 200 metres wide in average.
The technical team has used a drone camera to capture its impact, collected information and recorded the statements of the locals.
The DHM has failed to collect proper data and picture of the area as it lacked meteorological stations nearby the area, and a radar. “We have been focusing on the satellite-based image and its study and reports collected from the spot,” Baidhya said.
“There is no uniformity in the statements of the locals about the time and duration of the storm that hit the districts,” he said.
The meteorologists have also presumed that the storm had lashed the parts of the two district packing winds about 150 to 200 km per hour. RSS

(At least 31 people died after rainstorm swept through farming region of Bara and Parsa. Photo: Bishnu Kalpit)

Published Date: Tuesday, April 9th, 2019 | 11:24 AM

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