Artificial rainmaking kicks off in subdued mood

Artificial rainmaking kicks off in subdued mood

Planes of the Agriculture Ministry parked at Wing 46 in Phitsanulok on Tuesday, waiting for suitable condition for cloud seeding to make artificial rain and relieve the drought in the lower northern provinces. (Photo by Chinnawat Singha)
Planes of the Agriculture Ministry parked at Wing 46 in Phitsanulok on Tuesday, waiting for suitable condition for cloud seeding to make artificial rain and relieve the drought in the lower northern provinces. (Photo by Chinnawat Singha)

Artificial rainmaking operations to combat the drought began officially on Tuesday, but lack of favourable conditions kept the planes on the ground.

The Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department is the main agency, with 22 planes, while the Royal Thai Air Forces has assigned eight more aircraft to assist the operation.

But late on Tuesday afternoon the planes were still on the ground in Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Phitsanulok airports, with weather conditions not favourable for cloud seeding. And it was doubtful many would be flying on Wednesday.

Krittichai Thammasorn, chief of the operation in Phitsanulok, said planes were unlikely to leave Wing 46 on Wednesday, but he hoped cloud conditions on Thursday would be conducive for rainmaking.

The operation in Phitsanulok targets the Pa Sak basin of the Pa Sak River in Phetchabun, around Sirikit dam in Uttaradit, and Kwai Noi Bamrung Dan area in Phitsanulok.

In Khon Kaen, officials pinned their hopes for better conditions later on Wednesday, hoping to begin cloud seeding over Ubonrat dam in Khon Kaen, Lampao in Kalasin and Chulabhorn in Chaiyaphum.

Thawee Kanchana, the operation chief for the northeastern region in Khon Kaen, said his planes were fully loaded with chemicals for cloud seeding and were ready to fly anytime.

Sinchai Puengtambon, who is responsible for the northeastern region, said he would wait until Thursday to launch planes from Nakhon Ratchasima to try to bring rain to Lam Takhong dam and Khao Yai National Park.

The artificial rainmaking campaign was launched as more provinces brace for severe water shortages and the dry season intensifies after a poor wet season.

Drought has hard hit 12 in provinces and 28 others could be added to the list, Agriculture Minister Gen Chatchai Sarikulya said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

The 12 provinces severely affected by drought are Chiang Mai, Uttaradit, Phayao, Sukhothai, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Maha Sarakham, Nakhon Phanom, Buri Ram, Kanchanaburi, Phetchaburi and Sa Kaeo.


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