Flooding in South East Asia

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  • Rainfall forecast for the coming 48 hours.

    Satellite image of central Thailand before flooding. Source: NOAA

    Satellite image of central Thailand during the flooding. Source: NOAA

  • Flooding in South East Asia
    15.10.2011 14:35

     

    Much of south-east Asia has experienced an exceptionally strong monsoon season so far this year, causing over 600 deaths and flooding large areas of Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines.

    The monsoon, which is the main driver for the heavy rains, is an annual event which occurs across much of south and south-east Asia during the months of July through to October. Heating of central Asia during the late spring and early summer, culminates in a fall in air pressure over the region. This reverses the prevailing easterly winds experienced during the rest of the year, allowing south-westerly winds to bring moisture and thunderstorms up from the Indian Ocean. This year has seen a stronger monsoon season than normal, and with several tropical storms and typhoons affecting parts of the Philippines and northern Vietnam, rainfall amounts have been exceptionally high.

    Thailand has been particularly hard-hit with over 280 people having lost their lives, and 58 of the country’s 77 provinces severely affected. The heaviest rain has been confined to more central and northern areas up until recently with much of the northern agricultural plains under water. These flood waters are now expected to move south this weekend, draining along the Chao Phraya River, which meets the Gulf of Thailand at Bangkok. Heavy rainfall has also affected this particular part of the country, with 54mm recorded in just 12 hours on Friday afternoon. Therefore the saturated ground here will only exacerbate the expected surge of flood water as it flows down from the north. As well as the heavy rainfall, the peak of the flood waters is expected to coincide with high tide at the mouth of the river.

    Other parts of South East Asia have also had some significant rainfall. Ha Tinh in Vietnam recorded 265mm in 72 hours up until midnight on Saturday. This is an exceptional amount for October, when the monsoon is usually beginning to retreat.

    Further heavy and thundery rain is expected to affect much of south-east Asia for the rest of this weekend and into the start of next week. Therefore the flooding across many parts of the region is likely to remain or get worse over the coming few days.

    By: Chris Burton