Hat Yai braces for floods as heavy rains forecast

Hat Yai braces for floods as heavy rains forecast

The economic centre of Thailand's South, Hat Yai, has been warned to prepare for floods this week.

"Hat Yai is under the influence of a powerful low-pressure ridge," Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute director Royol Chitradon cautioned yesterday.

In 2010, Songkhla's Hat Yai district was badly flooded, causing serious financial damage.

The Meteorological Department yesterday forecast downpours and strong winds for Songkhla, Phattha-lung, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat in the wake of the low-pressure ridge.

"People in these provinces must beware of related dangers between November 19 and November 22," it announced.

Phuwiang Prakhammin, who heads a weather bureau based in Songkhla, said local authorities were now on alert.

"They are fully ready to respond to any emergency," he said.

Rainfall may soar above 90 millimetres in some spots, he said. At such a rate, urban zones will very likely be swamped with floodwaters.

Royol said that although Thailand was moving into the cool season this month, rain continued to pour down on many parts of the country.

"In a bid to provide more accurate forecasting, we are now preparing to adopt the Simulating Waves Nearshore system, just like the United States," he said.

He said this system, also known as SWAN, took more weather elements into account and delivered greater accuracy. "SWAN is between 85 and 90 per cent accurate for weather forecasts over a seven-day period," he said. Recently, Thailand has relied on another forecasting system known as WARP.

"WARP is about 80 per cent accurate for forecasts over a three-day period," he said.

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