The start of the New Year has brought heavy rain and flooding to parts of southern Thailand. At least 25 people have been killed during the floods which have affected approximately 360,000 homes in the south. Provinces hit by flooding include Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Surat Thani. The Thai army have been called in to help evacuate flood victims, provide temporary shelters and distribute emergency aid.
The amount of rain seen in southern Thailand is unusually high for the time of year. The rainy season normally ends for most of the country during November, but high rainfall levels extended into December 2016 and the beginning of the New Year in parts of the south. This time of the year is high season for Thailand’s tourist industry and amongst the areas affected by the unseasonal weather are the popular islands of Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. The Gulf Coast of Thailand has experienced the worst of the weather, but rain and high waves have also been seen on stretches of the Andaman Coast with Krabi and Trang amongst the areas feeling the effects of the monsoon rains. Other parts of Thailand including Bangkok and Chiang Mai have also seen more rain than usual for the month, but have not endured the flooding that has occurred in the south.
The flood waters have created transport problems in a number of southern provinces with road, rail and air services all suffering. Flooding in Nakhon Si Thammarat has resulted in the temporary closure of the city’s airport which isn’t expected to reopen until later this week. On some stretches of road, Bailey bridges have been put in place whilst repairs are carried out and lengthy tailbacks were reported earlier in the week in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.
Train services between Bangkok and the south have been disrupted with flooding on the line in Prachuap Khiri Khan this week resulting in trains to the south terminating at Hua Hin*. There are no replacement bus services because of flooding on the roads. Any passengers who have bought advance tickets can get a full refund. Contact the State Railway of Thailand 24-hour hotline on 1690 for current information on train services. Most main ferry services are still running as usual although the recently launched ferry service between Pattaya and Hua Hin has been affected by the high waves in the Gulf of Thailand. Some speedboats and longtail boat services between the islands on the Gulf Coast have been temporarily suspended. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is offering information and help to tourists via any of its offices in Thailand or you can call the TAT Contact Centre on 1672.
*Update: January 12
Train services from Bangkok now terminating at Nakhon Si Thammarat.
The weather forecast shows unsettled weather in Thailand isn’t over yet although there is predicted to be an improvement in many areas from the weekend onwards. Images posted online today from Ko Samui, Krabi and Phuket show an improvement with sunshine and blue skies.