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Damaging El Nino tipped to end around June

MORE RAIN is predicted this year than in 2015, as the El Nino weather effect is weakening but the country is not expected to face a strong La Nina phenomenon following that, the Meteorological Department has said.

Climate Centre director Chalalai Jamphon revealed that the rain pattern this year is expected to return to an average level after drought ravaged large parts of the country last year as a result of El Nino.
According to United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, El Nino and La Nina are complex weather patterns resulting from variations in ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean which contribute to changes in weather patterns across the Pacific.
For Thailand, which is situated in the western Pacific region, El Nino normally results in the more arid weather conditions than usual, while La Nina often brings more rain to the region.
“Last year when El Nino was powerful, we received significantly less precipitation especially during the early rainy season in May and June, which caused a tremendous effect on farmers who were dependent on rain to grow their crops, and we also noticed that temperatures were higher than usual,” Chalalai said.
However, she said several institutions had predicted that El Nino, which had reached its peak, would be over by about June.
“As of our latest weather information, the dry season is expected to end in mid-May and the rainy season will start … [But] it can come earlier or later within the range of one to two weeks,” she said.
Wattana Kanbua, a senior professional meteorologist and the Marine Meteorological Centre director, said that it was unlikely El Nino would give way to a powerful La Nina that would increase the chance of flooding.
“Most of the weather forecast institutes predicted that the possibility of La Nina [occurring] later on this year was only 40 per cent and it was more likely the weather pattern will be neutral,” Wattana said. “However, weather predictions for more than three months ahead can often be inaccurate.”
He said that even if there was a severe La Nina, Thailand would not be affected much because it is situated in a “perfect location” – far from La Nina’s zone of influence.
“La Nina is not the major factor for flooding in Thailand, even though someone claimed that the big flood in 2011 occurred in the La Nina year,” he said. “But the main reason for that flood was because many storms hit the northern region and [there was] poor management of water [in dams].”
Chaowalit Chantararat, managing director of the TEAM Group, a conglomerate of consultancy firms involved in water resource development, said that if the predicted increased rain comes this year it was vital the water was collected and managed carefully.
“The long drought has made our dams dry and according to the predicted rainfall, it will not fully fill up the dams. Therefore, more rain does not mean we can be lavish with the water supply,” Chaowalit said.

Published : January 24, 2016

By : Pratch Rujivanarom The Nation