Science and Technology Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi yesterday warned of a storm surge, especially in Phetchaburi, as Gaemi triggered heavy rainfall in some eastern provinces.
Aresident inSaKaeo’s Aranyaprathet district builds a cement flood wall in front of hishouse to brace for tropical depression Gaemi. PATIPATJANTHONG
Mr Plodprasop's storm surge prediction, however, has been downplayed by the Meteorological Department and a natural disaster expert, who said that a surge was unlikely.
The contradictory information came as the storm, which was believed to have weakened into a depression, reached the eastern region, and rains began in Sa Kaeo, Trat, and Chantaburi provinces.
"Let me warn fishermen to avoid going out to sea for the next couple of days. Whoever doesn't believe this should be detained [by police] because the waves could be as high as 4 metres," said Mr Plodprasop, who also heads the government's Water and Flood Management Commission (WFMC).
"Particularly in Phetchaburi, giant waves, but not as huge as a tsunami, are expected," he said during a video conference with government officials from Gulf of Thailand coastal provinces.
Thanawat Jarupongsakul, head of the natural disaster studies unit at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of science, said an analysis of the storm's route showed it would weaken into a depression and not move out to sea.
Waves in the Gulf of Thailand would reach about 30cm high on average, not as high as the 4-5m suggested by the WFMC, he added.
The depression was expected to lose its strength, Mr Thanawat said, predicting that several areas in the East and Bangkok would experience heavy rain starting this afternoon.
Somchai Baimuang, deputy director-general of the Meteorological Department, said the tropical storm would not move into the Gulf of Thailand, so no extreme weather events were likely in Phetchaburi province.
He said 90% of Bangkok will experience heavy rainfall today.
In Sa Kaeo, rain began falling at 4.30am yesterday prompting locals to speed up efforts to build flood protection walls using sandbags and concrete.
In Aranyaprathet district, which was hit by floods last month, about 6,000 sandbags have been brought in, and will be distributed to locals in case of flooding.
"My business was shut down for five days in the previous flood, and that cost me as much as 500,000 baht," said resident Pimporn Jaratwatcharin. "Of course, I'm also worried about the storm situation tonight."
Her shop was surrounded by a wall of sandbags and all merchandise has been put in storage.
From Sa Kaeo, the depression was expected to move on to the Central region where it would begin weakening into a low pressure area, according to the Meteorological Department.
Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said the capital still needed to be on alert for possible floods in the next couple of days.
Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered all army units to be prepared.
Flood-relief materials, including 880,000 sandbags, have been mobilised to deal with possible flooding in Bangkok, said Col Sirijan Ngathong, deputy army spokeswoman.
Anond Snidvongs, assistant secretary-general of the WFMC, said he was confident the rice growing areas in the Central region such as Ayutthaya and Suphan Buri would survive any flooding.
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