HEAVY RAINS IN THIMPHU

As a ‘riverside’ ¬†school, the river level is constantly on our minds. Last night’s heavy rain has resulted in a dramatic rise in the river level today. According to the Flood Warning Section, the river level at Dodena rose to 2.61m last night staying at that level only momentarily before falling. This morning the level was measured at about 2.4m. Last year’s highest level was about 2.48m so this year has been higher despite the relatively late and dry monsoon. According to reports, this was the highest one-day precipitation received in Thimphu for the past 16 years excluding 2009.

So how high can the river level rise? It would be hard to predict given the constantly shifting and changing nature of the river bank upstream in Thimphu. A lot of river basin area has been reclaimed by the government projects such the entire Centennial Park, the new Olympic track and field facility at Lungtenzampa, the Olympic rifle shooting range at Langjuphakha, as well as the basin opposite the Changjiji football grounds. These changes constantly affect the levels and river velocity and have their impact downstream.

The most recent flood situation was faced in 2009 when Cyclone Aila in the Bay of Bengal caused massive flooding in our region. During the two heavy days of rain on 26 May 2009, a landslide up in Thimphu valley created an artificial dam which led to the formation of a lake behind it. When it eventually burst, it caused extensive flooding downstream. On that day, the river level at Dodena rose to the highest recorded level of 2.91m.

So today’s river level is not as bad as it has been in the past. Our campus’ lowest point is the football field but even the field is at least 1.5m above today’s high water point.

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