City braces for more rain as monsoon hits
Drought strikes many other parts of nation
While Bangkok battles floods, many other parts of the country are expected to suffer prolonged dry spells which are likely to last until the middle of next month before the rainy season sets in.
According to the Thai Meteorological Department (TMD), the strong southwest monsoon will hit the country over the next few days, resulting in heavy rainfall in some areas, including Bangkok.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has ordered authorities to prepare for storms, floods and landslides in the Central Plains and on the eastern and western coasts.
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His instruction followed a warning Wednesday by the TMD that a strong southwesterly monsoon would lead to heavy rain in several areas of Thailand until Sunday.
Wanchai Sak-udomchai, TMD director-general, said the rainfall would be concentrated in the lower area of the Central Plains while North and Northeast regions will see less rainfall.
The North and the Northeast, where several major dams are located, were forecast to miss out on significant rain until the last week of next month, he said.
The volume of rainfall was predicted to be normal and not as overwhelming as in 2011 when Thailand suffered major floods. This was because the country had been feeling the effects of El Nino from the start of this year.
El Nino's impact has made the summer hotter than usual this year and would result in less rain in the rainy season, he said.
If no major storms come this year, more problems will lie with water retention as the dams would not have sufficient water for the next dry season, he said.
Normally, there are about one or two major storms every year, he said.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Amnuay Patise said an evaluation of the drought situation this year showed areas in the Central Plains and the Chao Phraya River basin were most affected.
In response to heavy rainfall in Bangkok on Tuesday night and the past few days, Gen Prayut raised concern about the worthiness of investment in infrastructure projects.
During his speech at an anti-corruption conference, he said: "In the past, we have been trying to dig waterways to contain rainwater [in several areas] but there turned out to be no rain.
"It only rained on Bangkok. [I] don't know if the rainfall will lead to the [Bangkok] governor being dismissed!" Gen Prayut said jokingly.
Throughout Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the eastern part of Bangkok was most affected by heavy rain.
Bangna district reported the highest volume of rainfall, followed by Klong Toey and Bang Rak, said the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's flood prevention centre.
As a result, the Srinakarin, Bangna and Prawet areas of Bangkok and parts of neighbouring Samut Prakan were affected by floods which led to traffic congestion early Wednesday morning.
Parts of Sukhumvit and Phuttha Raksa Roads in Samut Prakan were beset by flood waters about half a metre deep after heavy rain began on Tuesday night.
Many cars broke down, exacerbating the traffic congestion.
Serious flooding in the areas was blamed on the ongoing construction of the extension of the Green Line electric rail system which blocked the drainage system.
Another spot that suffered from serious inundation was Soi Bearing where flood waters were about 40 centimetres deep.
Bangkok governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra, however, claimed that the flood waters drained faster than last year and several flooded areas became dry before 6am, while only some low-lying areas such as the Bearing area in Samut Prakan still had flood waters about 10 to 15 centimetres deep.