Thais told to brace for Noul's wrath
Storm expected to batter 35 provinces
Thirty-five provinces, mostly in the Northeast and the East and including Bangkok, are expected to be battered by heavy rain brought on by Tropical Storm Noul this weekend, the Meteorological Department says.
In an update on Noul on Thursday, the department said the storm which was expected to intensify into a typhoon was about 600km southeast of Danang in Vietnam at 10am on Thursday.
It was tracking northwesterly at a speed of 20 km per hour. It was forecast to make landfall in Vietnam and pass over Thailand via the northeastern region on Friday.
The department warned people in flood-prone areas to prepare for an emergency. Flash floods, water runoffs and strong winds are forecast with residents strongly advised to avoid sheltering under large trees or in houses that are not sturdy.
Heavy downpours are expected to lash all provinces in the Northeast and the East, the first two regions to bear the brunt of the storm, on Friday. Noul will likely also trigger heavy rain as far south as Trang and Satun, the department said.
Bangkok and surrounding provinces are also expected to feel the storm's power, as are western provinces such as Kanchanaburi, as well as Central Plains provinces including Nakhon Sawan, Lop Buri and Saraburi, on Saturday.
The rainfall will persist over much of the country until Sunday.
Deputy army spokeswoman Col Sirichan Ngathong said yesterday the army's disaster relief centre has alerted all army regions and circles to prepare rapid-deployment units to assist residents in storm-hit areas.
The military will provide heavy machinery and equipment and dispatch personnel and technicians to get help to people.
"The emphasis is on ensuring people are safe," Col Sirichan said.
She said the army has set up advance units in disaster-prone locations which can offer help quickly to residents in case of floods or mudslides.
The units can also communicate weather updates to locals.
Meanwhile, Royal Irrigation Department (RID) director-general Thongplew Kongchan said department experts were inspecting sluice gates and barrages and removing debris which might obstruct drainage along waterways.
Thaweesak Thanadechopol, the RID's deputy chief, said irrigation project managers will monitor the water situation around the clock over the next three days and warn local residents about impending danger.
RID offices in the Northeast are are putting up warning flags about water levels in canals near flood-prone areas in Chaiyaphum, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Kalasin and Roi Et.
In Nakhon Ratchasima, Phimai dam has released water for the first time in two years to make room for rainfall from the storm.
Despite the threat, Noul is likely to bring much-needed respite for farmers wanting rain to grow crops and replenish reservoirs and dams, said Prapat Panyachartrak, chairman of the National Farmers Council.