La Nina may ease drought severity

La Nina may ease drought severity

Thailand may not encounter a severe drought this year as earlier expected, thanks to the influence of the La Nina phenomenon, but careful water usage is still needed especially among rice farmers who have been told to wait for the right time to start farming.

"The mild La Nina will bring a lot of rain to some areas," deputy Royal Irrigation Department chief Thawisak Thanadechophon said on Wednesday, referring to provinces in northern and eastern Thailand which will experience heavy rainfall between May and October this year.

The new forecast, announced by the Meteorological Department, alleviates fears of water scarcity which have gripped the country since late last year when water levels in major reservoirs sharply dropped, followed by low water flow in the Chao Phraya River, which is a source of tap water for Bangkok.

Meteorologists expect La Nina, an ocean cooling phenomenon, will occur in Thailand in August and September. The phenomenon is known to bring heavy rainfall, floods and cool weather.

According to the Meteorological Department, rainfall will be normal this month with heavy rainfall expected to start in June.

Only some parts of the country will encounter freak weather conditions next month. The Northeast and the western part of the South will face unusually low rainfall while Bangkok and neighbouring provinces will be hit by downpours.

After July, the amount of rainfall will vary in different areas across the country.

"In November we will have more water than for the same time last year by between 3,500 and 5,000 million cubic metres," Mr Thawisak said.

He said this year's rainfall will be similar to the 1995 rain pattern, which brought more rain to the upper part of the country, where large reservoirs sit.

The Ubolratana reservoir in Khon Kaen will fill up to more than 80% of its capacity after the rainy season, Mr Thawisak said.

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