Record Flooding in Thailand

Severe floods are relatively common in Thailand, but this years’ are the “worst in modern history.” 250 deaths are reported already, with flooding expected for at least another month. Economic damages will be several billions of dollars. Our house is safe and dry, but some nearby towns are severely flooded. An American retired to a beautiful 3-story house on a nearby river, his 2nd-story floor already near the height of nearby roofs. Several days ago, he was stranded on his 3rd floor and rescued by boat.

Several regions, drained by different rivers, are affected but chief focus is on the center: Chiang Mai and most of Northern and Central Thailand drain through the Chao Phya River to the Gulf of Thailand. Nakhon Sawan, the large city where four rivers from the north merge together to become the Chao Phya River, has been kept relatively dry by levees built in response to previous floods, but upriver reservoirs filled to capacity release water and those levees may be topped tonight or tomorrow. Yesterday, we traveled to Nakhon Sawan. The detour we used to drive to that city was already closed by evening and a return trip which usually takes 1 hour took over 4 hours with traffic jam and detouring. Conditions change fast. Isolated areas cannot be supplied with drinking water so filtering devices are boated in and stranded people drink filtered flood water. Thai government has asked citizens to “think for themselves.”

The megastere may be a useful measure to quantize the water; this is the volume of water in a cube 100 meters to a side, and weighs 1 million metric tons. Average flow in the Chao Phya River is 2 or 3 megasteres per hour but with the upriver dam release is now about 20 megasteres per hour. A day’s flow at that rate, spread evenly across Bangkok Province, would put that metropolis under a foot of water, if my arithmetic is correct. Instead, of course, much of the water is diverted to the towns and farmlands of Central Thailand, with local gangs fighting for control of floodgates. A big (and bitter) news story is that Suphanburi, controlled by notorious ex-Premier and “Influential Person” Banharn, has been kept relatively dry. :cool:

The Bhumipol and Sirikit reservoirs have a combined capacity of 23,000 megasteres, which would be 48 days of river flow even at the maximum rate. Not all that capacity is “usable” but had those reservoirs been gradually emptied before the flooding season, it might seem that this problem could have been avoided. But that would have been disastrous if the weather had turned instead to drought. Instead the major reservoirs have been near capacity for weeks, rendering them useless for flood control. It would be interesting to understand whether a mistake was made but I wouldn’t know where to start.

AFAIK, Bangkok is still relatively dry; I hope Siam Sam will give us a report on what’s expected there. And I hope he gives thanks to us up here as, without the damming, Bangkok would be under water and conditions would be more normal here. :dubious: :rolleyes:

Aargh. Sounds serious. I fly to Phuket on Saturday then Bangkok on the following Thursday (20th October).

Fingers crossed…

I’m flying in to Suvarnabhumi on the 29th. I hope they had the presence of mind to build it on high ground.

Not much to add to that right now. Latest story here. Bangkok update here. I believe the outer edges are under a bit of water now. A local DJ said something about 8 inches at her house out that way. But the city government assures everyone all is well, so what could possibly go wrong, heh? We live not too far at all from the river but up on the 6th floor, so it would have to be Ark-type circumstances before we got waterlogged. Does look like worse is on the way. Bet Abhisit is happy not to be PM now (recently defeated in a general election).

I did read that yet another 25 crocodiles have escaped, this time in Ayutthaya province. That’s on top of others that have already escaped elsewhere. Thankfully though, these are “only” 1 meter long. Who the hell keeps these things? I remember the last major flooding in which crocs started escaping left and right, in the mid-1990s. Some government official or other – a cabinet member, IIRC – gave the citizenty advice on how to capture one if encountered; Dave Barry even picked that up for one of his columns

Anyone who is interested can monitor Bangkok’s condition at the Department of Drainage and Sewerage. It’s all in Thai, but you can get the idea from the map. The main Suvarnabhumi Airport is way to the east off the map, Don Muang Airport about in the North of the map.

We were just in Thailand but left before the flooding hit. It looks like an enormous disaster. I know someone who was in Chiang Mai after we left, and she spent a day out of her vacation helping the locals look through the wreckage for flood survivors and bodies. My thoughts are with the people there.

A concerted effort to raise the levees protecting the center of Nakhon Sawan delayed this for a day or two, but a breaking news story is that rivers have crested and inundated Nakhon Sawan City. Most dry areas are probably islands with cars unable to leave.

My 17-year old daughter was attending school in Nakhon Sawan; we’d just brought her home, with apartment manager saying “Why are you leaving? It’s not going to flood.” :dubious: Phone service, land and mobile, is cut off. I have a good friend who lives in a high-elevation village near Nakhon Sawan, but travels to the City most days to run errands or chat with friends. We just called his home; his wife is frantic, unable to contact him.

As I implied in my earlier post, there are huge reservoirs in North Thailand which could have played an important flood control role; that they didn’t seems a travesty.

Apparently, my wife and I got a somewhat exaggerated impression from the T.V. news. It now sounds like much of the city is still dry, though the main government hospital is flooded and being evacuated.

It sounds like the Asia Highway (Thailand’s major road connecting Bangkok to Chiang Mai) may be severed both north and south of Nakhon Sawan, as my friend reports it’s almost empty. (The Highway Bypass south of Nakhon Sawan used to avoid its traffic lights has been closed to flooding for 2 or 3 weeks now.)

Bangkok may not be so lucky after all. I’ve heard of three different storm systems expected to hit the capital between this Wednesday and next Monday, plus the high tides will be against us. The wife’s office in central Bangkok has been discussing evacuation plans if it comes to that, and Klong Toey Port here in Bangkok is talking about shutting down if it becomes flooded, which would put a halt to a good deal of shipping. Cambodia’s getting walloped by a bunch of storms and flooding too.

I was there a few weeks ago. Initial plan were to head to Laos but the flooding made us go elsewhere. Spent over night in Ayutthaya and saw lots of flooding on the way there on the train from Bangkok. The city itself was fine but when we were there we did see the army building makeshift levees. These have broken now from what I can see as I’ve seen photos of people in boats in temples that I was walking around 3 weeks ago :eek:

Hopefully it calms down soon but big weather and SE Asia aren’t strangers.

Particularly in October.

While the half-billion tons of water racing daily through the City’s heart posed danger, Nation Media suggests that a minor accident was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in Nakhon Sawan:

I just spoke on the phone to a friend in Nakhon Sawan. He feels the situation there is much exaggerated. Most of the City remained dry; the dyke has been repaired; and pumping is underway.

News coverage is misleading. A city in trouble may have areas under two meters or more, and areas that are dry, but on T.V. news they always go somewhere that the reporter can stand in exactly 12 inches of water. Wet, but not too wet for his comfort. :smiley: The helicopter clip made it look like Nakhon Sawan had been devastated, but in fact it was a clip of the riverside market running in a loop: “zooming out” would have been more informative if less sensational.

But my comments are not to minimize the flooding. Cities other than Nakhon Sawan have been rendered unusable. The water is still coming.

100 more crocodiles escaped, this time in Uthai Thani province. But not to worry, as “crocodiles raised in captivity have no instinct to attack humans.” Hmmm. Nice to know I can just go give one a tummy rub if it swims this far down. Geez, every time there’s flooding, crocs escape. It’s worse than a New York sewer.

Bangkok’s braced, but no one knows what’s going to happen. Conflicting information abounds. The latest seems to be that eastern Bangkok is the most in danger. Before that, they said all along the river, including the streets around our neighborhood. The prime minister finally admitted she doesn’t know what to do but managed to muster some sage advice for Bangkok residents anyway: “Don’t panic.” The government was trying to decide today whether to declare a three-day holiday for civil servants – including my my wife – for the rest of the week so they would not have to get caught up in any flooding if and when it arrives, but they decided not to do that after all.

I figure whatever is going to happen down this way will happen on Thursday or Friday. The water’s already rising in the outer suburbs, and one of the wife’s sisters, who lives in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok, is moving back into the city for a few days, staying in a condo unit owned by a cousin. Problem is her home out there is a one-story house, and they’re expecting one meter (39 inches) of water. She was going to move some stuff, but it’s proving difficult to find a pickup truck for hire at the moment.

I rather find I am forced to wonder if raising croks in captivity is especially popular in Thailand, and why?

Crocodile skin leather and crocodile meat. Ostrich farms are also somewhat common in our area, again for the meat. In our area we often get reports of escaped crocodiles during flood season.

Occasionally I see creatures crossing the roads that look to me a bit like crocodiles, but are actually water monitors.

Makes sense, but I would think that you would try to make your rock ranch a bit more secure, knowing that you are inclined to flood out periodically.

They just get overly complacent. The floods aren’t this bad very often, so they tend just to forget about it. The story says there are 200,000 crocs in captivity nationwide – that they know of – so these that escape are just a drop in the bucket. But still!

It’s hardly rained at all these past 24 hours, but it’s awfully gray outside today.

OK. Think I’m going to fly to Phuket as planned, and make a decision once I’m there. From what I can gather, Phuket seems to be continuing as normal despite big storms. Yep, I picked the wrong month to decide I wanted to see Thailand…

I really don’t want to be the tourist douchebag, rocking up in Bangkok in the middle of a disaster, thinking everything will be OK but just adding to the problem.

I have to amend my plans, no big whoop.

Phuket will be fine. The South has a different weather pattern than the rest of the country. And hopefully at least for Bangkok, the problem will be resolved one way or another by early next week.