6 May 2009

Early May is the start of the landslide season

Posted by Dave Petley

Whilst the transition towards the Northern Hemisphere summer is rather pleasant for many of us, the start of May also marks the start of the landslide season in the Northern Hemisphere. Of course the main problems kick in when the SW monsoon really gets going in Asia and the tropical cyclone season properly begins in the N. Pacific and N. Atlantic basins, but already there are clear signs that the land is starting to move. Overnight, a number of Pakistani news agencies have reported a large landslide in the Neelam Valley:

“At least 28 people were trampled to death due to landslide in Neelam Valley on Tuesday, Geo news reported. According to sources 28 people have been trapped under the landslide in Jora area here in Neelam Valley, part of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK). The rescue activities have been kicked off after the tragic incident and the trapped dead bodies of the unfortunates are being dug out, sources added.”

Of course the Neelam Valley was pretty badly affected by the 2005 earthquake (the image below shows a part of the valley in 2006), so ongoing landslide problems here are not a surprise.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has already been battered by one typhoon (named Kajira in the Pacific-wide system, or Dante in the Philippines), which triggered a landslide in Sorsogan that killed 23 people. Unfortunately, there is another one (Chan-Hom) en route for northern Philippines at the moment (Tropical Storm Risk):

The good news is that Tropical Storm Risk (see long term forecast here) are forecasting a below average season for typhoons (activity is anticipated to be 20% below the long term mean). The long term forecast for the monsoon in India is essentially average (forecast rainfall = 96% +/-5% of long term mean.