Make it rain! Forced downpours keep reservoirs fed
Artificial rain-making operations are under way to add water to key reservoirs in major provinces in the Northeast, the East and the upper South, according to the Department of Royal Rain Making and Agricultural Aviation.
The artificial rain-making bases have been set up in the lower northern province of Phitsanulok, the northeastern provinces of Udon Thai, Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen, the eastern province of Chanthaburi, and the upper southern province of Prachuap Khiri Kan.
The units have begun operating since last month to battle droughts affecting wide areas of the Northeast, said Sinchai Phuengtambon, head of the region's rain-making unit.
He said the operation targets drought-stricken farmland and aims to lift water reserves in key reservoirs.
In the beginning, the Northeast had two rain-making bases in Udon Thani and Nakhon Ratchasima. However, drought has also hit Khon Kaen forcing the department to add a third base recently.
The rain created aims to alleviate drought in 20 northeastern provinces.
In Nakhon Ratchasima, Royal Irrigation Office 8 revealed that the five main reservoirs in the region were storing more water than during the same time last year.
The Lamtaklong reservoir in Sikhiu district is holding 173 million cubic metres of water, or 55% of capacity, while the Lam Phra Plerng reservoir in Pak Thong Chai district has 118 million cubic metres of water, or 76% of its total capacity.
The Moon Bon reservoir in Soeng Sang district has 89 million cubic metres (63%), Lam Chae in Khon Buri has 142 million cubic metres (52%) and Lam Plai Mat in Soeng Sang has 75 million cubic metres (77%).
Meanwhile, Surasri Kidtimonton, chief of the royal rain-making department, said recent efforts have reduced the severity of hail storms in Roi Et, Kalasin, Yasothon, Udon Thani, Loei and Phetchabun.
The artificial rain has managed to forestall hail in some areas. Hail has caused extensive damage to many parts of the country in recent weeks, according to the department.
In Chanthaburi, the department reported moderate artificial rainfall in Soi Dao district and Pong Nam Ron district, where the Klong Phraput reservoir has seen levels rise.
In Prachuap Khiri Khan, artificial rain increased the water level in the Pran Buri reservoir, which feeds large swaths of farmland.
The department said it will continue to force rain on a regular basis to keep dams and reservoirs well fed.
People in drought-hit areas are urged to contact the department.