Yangyel Lhaden

The southern and eastern parts of the country are expected to experience cloudy weather with moderate to heavy rainfall until May 29 as cyclone Remal is moving north and towards northeast, according to the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM).

Cyclone Remal originated in the Bay of Bengal. It is the first cyclone to hit the bay this year ahead of the June-September monsoon season.

The cyclone made a landfall – meaning it hit land from sea – on the Bangladesh coast on Sunday and began crossing the Khepupara coast from the southwest side of Mongla port at around 8 pm, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department. Southern Bhutan experienced heavy rainfall for a few hours starting midnight yesterday.

After landfall, the cyclone weakens as it moves away from its centre. Bhutan is located to the north of Bangladesh. The cyclone moving north and towards northeast means it is moving away from Bhutan. The southern and eastern parts of Bhutan are experiencing the cyclone’s indirect effects, such as rain and gusty winds.

The skies were gloomy yesterday, with light to moderate rain, but the Department of Surface Transport reported a roadblock along the Trongsa-Gelephu Primary National Highway at around 9.30 am, which was cleared later in the day.

The local governments in southern and eastern Bhutan are urging people to remain alert and aware of the cyclone’s potential consequences. A group chat message from a local leader in Gelephu advises people to avoid going near rivers, not to leave machinery near rivers, and to stay vigilant.

The Sarpang dzongkhag administration has issued three public cautionary notifications across various social media channels. All local leaders, including gups, have been alerted about the situation.

Sarpang’s officiating dzongda, Karma Wangdi, said that the dzongkhag is prepared to minimise the impact of potential heavy rainfall and flash floods on lives and properties. “We will closely monitor the situation. The dzongkhag disaster management team will stay up late into the night to oversee the situation in case we need to provide any logistical support due to potential disasters.”

He added that the dzongkhag administration instructed construction firms, dredgers, and crusher plant owners near riverbanks to relocate their construction machinery and other materials to safer locations. “If any preventable loss or disaster occurs due to their failure and negligence, they will be held accountable and required to bear the expenses incurred,” Karma Wangdi said.

The dzongkhag administration also cautioned all points of entry near water bodies and low-lying areas to exercise extra vigilance and take necessary measures to ensure their safety.

The chief of the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Division, Thinley Norbu, said that all 20 dzongkhags and fourthromdes have disaster management and contingency plans (DMCPs) in place. He said, “They include ensuring the readiness of emergency response teams, known as Incident Management Teams, at both the dzongkhag and gewog levels.”

Thinley Norbu said that the DMCPs feature detailed evacuation plans, routes, and sites that have been mapped out. “Coordination with various agencies and stakeholders has been established to ensure a cohesive and coordinated response,” he said. The disaster management and contingency plan encompasses early warning systems in the form of social media information or others to alert the public and continuous monitoring of weather patterns.

The Department of Local Governance and Disaster Management (DLGDM) has communicated with all dzongdags, thromdes, and the Dzongkhag Disaster Management Committees to send out monsoon advisories to vulnerable gewogs, villages, schools, institutions, and communities.

These advisories include education on cyclone and flood risks, safety measures, and the distribution of awareness materials. Information is being disseminated through radio, TV, social media, and community meetings, emphasising the importance of monitoring updates from reliable sources.

The NCHM is expected to provide updates if there are significant changes to the forecast.


Additional reporting by Lhakpa Quendren