Monsoon

Unprecedented October 2021 Rainfall in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand has seen unusual rainfall episode in the month of October 2021. The extreme rains during October 17 to 19 across the state and particularly at several places in districts under Kumaon division have been termed as highest rainfall in the recorded history as per Meteorological Circle (MC), Dehradun. This account is an attempt to document the historical rainfall events caused by combination of low pressure and western disturbance (WD) weather phenomena.

October 16-17, 2021

This year, the south west monsoon covered the state on June 13 about 10 days earlier and retreated by October 8, after a week’s delay. Just day before the heavy rainfalls, several districts under Garhwal and Kumaon divisions witnessed less than normal rainfall. Overall the state recorded 7 mm rains against the normal average of 19 mm.

District wise 24 hours rainfall for 16-17 October 2021.

DistrictsActual (mm)Normal (mm)DistrictsActual (mm)Normal (mm)
Chamoli0015Almora0005
Dehradun1336Bageshwar0005
Pauri0005Champawat0012
Tehri1425Pithoragarh0018
Haridwar8107Nainital2114
Rudraprayag0003US Nagar0019
Uttarkashi0146State0719

Rains on October 17-18, 2021

The heavy rainfall spell started in afternoon hours of October 17 and till 08:30 am of October 18, rainfall at 38 stations including AWS, Automated Rain Gauge (ARG) and Manual Observatory (MO) by State government and Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) in 7 districts recorded equal or more than 70 mm of rains according to the Daily Rainfall Report by MC, Dehradun and independent meteorologist, weather bloggers.  

24 hours rainfall (≥70 mm) from 08.30 am to 08:30 am on October 17-18.

Champawat Pithoragarh Nainital US Nagar 
AWS/ ARG / MORains (mm)AWS/ ARG / MORains mmAWS/ ARG / MORains (mm)AWS/ ARG / MORains (mm)
Champawat290Pithoragarh90Bhimtal180Kashipur170
Pancheshwar260Pithoragarh IMD90Nainital130Kashipur170
Bastia240Gangoli80Jeolikot110Khatima90
Lohaghat190Pithoragarh70Haldwani100Gular Bhoj90
Chalthi190Berinag69Nainital90Bajpur90
Champawat180Almora Mukteshwar70Khatima80
Tanakpur170Dwarhat71Ramnagar70Kashipur70
Champawat, IMD160Bageshwar Mukteshwar70  
Banbasa-140Shama83    
Lohaghat130Liti63    
Devidhura110Pauri     
Pati110Kalagarh71    

Apart from this, Badrinath registered 101 mm and Kedarnath 45 mm rains in past 24 hours which is not mentioned by MC, Dehradun report. The report has mostly mentioned rainfall amount in round figure with +/- 5mm margin.  It misprinted Berinag rainfall figure as 69 cm instead of 6.9 cm.

The data shows extremely heavy rains (>20.44 cm) were recorded at 3 stations, very heavy rains (between 11.56 to 20.44 cm) at 11 sites and heavy rains (between 6.45 to 11.55 cm) at 23 locations from 8.30 am to 8.30 am on October 17-18.

The 24 hours district wise rainfall figure in millimeters (mm) by IMD for the duration is given in table below.  According to this, Champawat district reported very heavy rainfall, while US Nagar and Nainital recorded heavy rainfall in 24 hours.

District wise 24 hours (October 17-18) and cumulative rainfall till October 18, 2021

24 hours rainfall17-18 Oct. 2021Cumulative Rainfall1-10 Oct. 2021
  SN  DistrictsActual (mm)Normal (mm)%Dep.Actual (mm)Normal (mm)%Dep.
1Champawat115.65.22123%133.853.7149%
2US Nagar71.82.23162%87.534.6153%
3Nainital64.02.32684%97.939.4148%
4Pithoragarh55.12.32296%91.544.3107%
5Almora36.71.81941%45.419.3135%
6Bageshwwar33.01.81733%89.119.3362%
7Pauri25.62.21062%25.620.525%
8Haridwar25.31.31848%35.916.7115%
9Tehri21.41.61235%27.721.728%
10Uttarkashi20.84.3385%33.034.3-4%
11Chamoli19.82.4727%39.719.7102%
12Rudraprayag19.70.110000%43.920.5114%
13Dehradun19.11.51175%33.530.89%
 State36.72.41429%56.029.490%

Rains on October 18-19, 2021

The excessive rains continued for second day across 10 districts in the state on October 18. The information shared by independent weather experts Navdeep Dahiya and Shubham Yadav tracking Uttarakhand rainfall episode closely shows that in the first 6 and 12 hours of the day several station recorded extremely heavy to very heavy rainfall. All the 6 districts in Kumaon division again received very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall. At 2 sites it is termed highest rainfall in recorded history.

TimeStations/ LocationsCategory
08:30 am to 2:30 pmChampawat (18 cm)  Pancheshwar (16.7 cm)Very heavy to Heavy
07:00 am to 02:00 pmLansdown (16.6 cm), Satupuli (15.2 cm), Kotdwar (11.6) Nainital (9.0 cm) Shama (8.6 cm) 
8:30 am to 05:30 pmMuketeshwar 10.3 cm (0.4 cm less of 10.66 cm all time high rainfall of October 06, 2009)Heavy
8:30 am to 08:30 pmJeolikot (26.05 cm), Nainital (24.90 cm), Bhimtal (20.1 cm) Hldwani (13.4 cm)Extremely heavy
8:30 am to 09:00 pmKedarnath 12.4 cmVery heavy

As per Bikram Singh, Director, MC Dehradun Mukteshwar rainfall station established in 1897 recorded 34.08 cm in 24 hours during October 18-19. The previous record has been 25.45 cm on September 18, 1914. Similarly, the Pant Nagar weather station witnessed 40.39 cm rains. The station was set up in 1962 and previous highest rainfall record was 22.8 cm dated July 10, 1990. This information was revealed and shared on social media by Kavita Upadhyay a Nainital based journalist and researcher.

Referring to data from IMD’s manual observatories and climatology records, Navdeep Dahiya mentioned that Nainital-401 mm, Mukteshwar-341 mm and Pant Nagar-404 mm have recorded highest ever 24 hours rainfall records for all months in recorded history. According to him the previous highest rainfall record for Nainital site was 313.7 mm on September 15, 1957, for Mukteshwar it was 254.5 mm on September 18, 1914 and Pant Nagar 228 mm on July 10, 1990.

Rainfall (mm) at major manual stations on October 18 and 19 as shared by Shubham Misra.

Manual stationsOct. 18Oct. 19
Nainital92.0401.0
Pant Nagar62.3403.9
Haldwani98.2325.0
Mukteshwar68.2340.0
Champawat160.0190.0
Pithoragarh89.9212.1
Loharghat133.3320.0
Almora40.0220.0

He further mentioned that in just 4 days between October 16 to 20 (10.0 mm on Oct. 17; 134.0 mm Oct. 18; 535.0 mm Oct, 19 and 30.5 mm Oct. 20.) Nainital AWS at GIC registered 709.5 mm rainfall. [All daily rainfalls are reported for 24 hours ending at 0830 hours in the morning.]

As per daily rainfall report by MC, Dehradun for Oct 18-19 (i.e. 24 hours ending at 0830 hours on Oct 19) at least 24 weather stations received extremely heavy rains while very heavy rains has been reported at 12 sites and heavy rainfall at 1 station.

24 hours Rainfall (≥7 cm) on October 18-19 in Kumaon division.

Champawat Pithoragarh Nainital US Nagar 
AWS/ ARG / MORains (cm)AWS/ ARG / MORains cmAWS/ ARG / MORains (cm)AWS/ ARG / MORains (cm)
Champawat58Gangoli33Nainital53Rudrapur48
Pancheshwar51Pithoragarh24Jeolikot49Gular Bhoj47
Devidhura37Thal24Nainital40Khatima21
Lohaghat32Berinag23Bhimtal40Kashipur18
Chalthi29Didihath16Mukteshwar34Bajpur8
Bastia25Gangolihath14Haldwani33 Almora 
Champawat19Bageshwar Ramnagar23Takula29
Banbasa13Shama31  Almora22
Tanakpur12Liti29  Dwarhat19
  Loharkhet20  Ranikhet17
  Bageshwar16  Chaukhutiya16
      Someshwar14

In Garhwal region too, 7 weather stations witnessed very heavy rainfall and 6 other received heavy rainfall during this period. 

24 hours Rainfall (≥7 cm) on October 18-19 in Garhwal division.

Pauri Chamoli Rudraprayag 
AWS/ ARG / MORains (cm)AWS/ ARG / MORains cmAWS/ ARG / MORains (cm)
Kotdwar14Joshimath19Rudraprayag11
Thailisain14Karnaprayag13Ganganagar10
Srinagar13Gairsain12Tehri 
Dhumakot11Tharali10Devprayag12
Lansdown10  Tehri9

District wise, Nainital and US Nagar recorded extremely heavy rainfall in 24 hours ending at 0830 hours on Oct 19 and 5 districts Champawat Almora, Bageshwar, Pithoragarh and Chamoli witnessed very heavy rains while 3 districts of Pauri, Rudraprayag and Tehri received heavy rainfall during this period. At state level, against the normal average of 1.1 mm, the 122.4 mm actual rainfall has been registered during October 18-19 which is in very heavy rainfall category. 

District wise 24 hours (October 18-19) and cumulative rainfall till October 19, 2021

24 hours rainfall18-19 Oct. 2021Cumulative Rainfall01-19 Oct. 2021
  SN  DistrictActual (mm)Normal (mm)%Dep.Actual (mm)Normal (mm)%Dep.
1Nainital279.81.110000%377.740.5833%
2US Nagar232.11.610000%319.636.2783%
3Champawat196.43.06446%330.256.7482%
4Almora172.81.410000%218.220.7954%
5Bageshwar167.11.41000%256.220.71138%
6Pithoragarh136.91.87506%228.446.1395%
7Chamoli127.50.610000%167.220.3724%
8Pauri98.81.66073%124.322.1463%
9Rudraprayag77.62.23428%121.522.7435%
10Tehri67.50.79548%95.322.4325%
11Uttarkashi48.70.59637%81.734.8135%
12Dehradun24.80.210000%58.431.088%
13Haridwar13.80.34513%49.817.0193%
 State122.41.110000%178.430.5485%

Rains on October 19-20, 2021

The rainfall intensity decreased in following 24 hours on October 19-20, 2021 (i.e. 24 hours ending at 0830 hours on Oct 20). As per MC, Dehradun daily rainfall report dated October 20 moderate rains were recorded at 10 stations whereas 8 stations registered heavy rains and 2 sites witnessed very heavy rains in 24 hours spread over 8 districts of state.

Districts≥ 5 cm rainfall in 24 hours October 19-20
AlmoraAlmora-7, Takula (AWS)-6, Ranikhet-6, Bhainsiya Chhana (AWS)-5, Matela (AGRO)-5, Dwarahat-5, Almora (AWS)-5
ChampawatLohaghat-12, Devidhura (AWS)-11, Bastia (ARG)-10, Tanakpur (AWS)-5
BageshwarLiti (ARG)-8
PithoragarhGanai Gangoli (ARG)-13, Pithoragarh-9, Gangolihat (AWS)-8
NainitalMukteshwar-9, Mukteshwar (AWS)-8
US NagarKhatima-9, Khatima (AWS)-6
HaridwarKhanpur (AWS)-6
PauriSyunsi (AWS)-5

As for district average only Champawat recorded heavy rainfall.

District wise 24 hours (October 19-20) and cumulative rainfall till October 20, 2021

24 hours rainfall19-20 Oct. 2021Cumulative Rainfall1-20 Oct. 2021
SNDistrictsActual (mm)Normal (mm)% DepActual (mm)Normal (mm)% Dep.
1Champawat121.90.310000%452.157.0693%
2Almora43.20.410000%261.421.11139%
3US Nagar34.00.310000%353.636.5869%
4Nainital28.30.93040%406.241.4881%
5Chamoli19.80.63200%187.020.9795%
6Rudraprayag4.81.0375%126.223.7433%
7Pauri3.40.8329%127.822.9458%
8Tehri0.20.8-71% LD95.523.2312%
9Uttarkashi0.00.4-100%81.735.2132%
10Dehradun0.01.0-99% LD58.432.082%
11Haridwar0.00.1-100%49.817.1191%
12PithoragarhND1.0ND228.447.1385%
13BageshwarND0.4ND262.121.11142%
 Uttarakhand16.90.72310%192.631.2517%

LD* Large Deficit

Rainfall variation in 2nd & 3rd week of October 2021

The weekly rainfall data for October 7-12 and October 14-20 weeks shows sharp contrast between rainfall figures. While all the districts including the state were facing large rainfall deficit in second week of October, the situation totally changed to all the districts and state registering rainfall in large excess.

Rainfall between07.13 Oct. 2021Rainfall between14-20 Oct. 2021
SNDistrictsActual (mm)Normal (mm)%Dept. (mm)Actual (mm)Normal (mm)%Dept. (mm)
1Almora0.07.1-100252.77.73182
2Bageshwar0.07.1-100206.07.72575
3Chamoli0.06.4-100167.19.61641
4Champawat0.018.4-100433.923.31762
5Dehradun0.011.9-10045.39.0403
6Pauri0.06.2-100127.87.21674
7Tehri0.06.7-10090.58.7940
8Haridwar0.08.2-10047.23.61212
9Nainital0.012.0-100374.517.02103
10Pithoragarh0.817.2-96192.015.21163
11Rudraprayag0.09.0-100102.16.61447
12US Nagar0.012.1-100337.915.92025
13Uttarkashi0.03.0-10069.713.1432
 State0.19.0-99174.111.41427

Bhim Singh Rawat (bhim.sandrp@gmail.com)

Note:- Uttarakhand is divided into two major administrative divisions of Garhwal and Kumaon. Out of 13 districts, Garhwal division is comprised of 7 districts namely Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Rudraprayag, Tehri, Pauri, Haridwar and Dehradun, while there are 6 districts under Kumaon division which includes Bageshwar, Pithoragarh, Champawat, Nainital, Almora and US Nagar.  

The rains have particularly affected almost all the districts under Kumaun division. The event unfolded after monsoon period when the soil was already saturated and dams, rivers carrying significant water. Following the unusual rain spell there has been several landslides, flash floods causing wide scale destruction.   

3 thoughts on “Unprecedented October 2021 Rainfall in Uttarakhand

  1. This is a video blog posted by a local from Darma Valley, Uttarakhand. It shows the complete collapse of the road network beyond Tawaghat. 19 minutes into the video, there’s a dam on Dhauliganga and the road completely caved in. It’s terribly scary but they are forced to walk since the morning 7 AM till the afternoon.
    This alone shows how worse it has been in last week rain. Hope, after this, there won’t be any more rain till next year. But then again, things will repeat itself. Looks like that the road built by BRO contractors use low cost poor materials.
    Since this part is the strategic location, authorities should pay more attention on the quality and less on propaganda and fanfare. Otherwise, same will happen again and again, costing tax payer’s money in the name of building infrastructure while the locals are forced to commute with their life at hands.

    Liked by 1 person

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