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BANGKOK 18 August 2019 08:49

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timber

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Anyone recall Typhoon Gay in 1989?

 

The coincident timing is quite remarkable.

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Well they weren't. The 'Thai-phoon' never happened, this is a different, later, weather front that's been playing havoc down south.

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I am in the middle of this now and the flooding here in downtown Ranode is totally unprecedented.

 

The amazing fact of the matter is that this has nothing to do with a 'typhoon' or any other kind of tropical depression.

 

It is just bog-standard monsoon season bands coming off the sea from east, with some extenuating factors that are completely the result of bad planning.

 

They don't keep official rainfall records for Ranode, but I think if you could compared this year with previous ones you wouldn't see any major difference.

 

The main hydrologic difference is that almost none of the water can no longer get from Songkhla Lake to the sea using the system of local canals here. These canals were designed not for drainage but for agricultural purposes: to get fresh water to the rice fields and other agricultural lands west of Rt408 and to the extensive shrimp farms east of it.

 

The project to expand Rt408, which started at the border of Satingphra and goes all the way North up the isthmus of Nakorn Sri Thammarat, has effectively blocked drainage to the sea through these channels. The fact that the road is still (barely) passable when everything on both sides is flooded is a testament to the fact of how high up the road  was purposely built.

 

To my knowledge there was never any EIA or public hearing done on this project, which had already left many homeowners angry because now their bedrooms, shopfronts  and front porches are now right up against the new breakdown lanes...many below it.

 

The Songkhla Lake drainage basin is enormous. All the water from all of Songkhla as well as Phattalung must flow through it to the final outlet at the tip of Samila Beach in Songkhla Town. [see first and second images]

 

How effectively drainage into the sea can be accomplished also depends on the tides, which in turn depend on lunar cycles. They will be at their greatest extremes during a full moon period...the last full moon was December 3...

 

Another important factor that gets no attention at all is that the flooding has a positive-feedback-loop effect. Look at the radar image (image 3) taken yesterday afternoon and you can see that much of the downpours that left Phattalung Town submerged last night resulted from cloud formations that developed not out over the sea, but over Songkhla Lake and its flooded surroundings.

 

This is because it takes far less 'solar power' to evaporate shallow fresh water than saltwater. So the resulting cumulus clouds form and rise up, then get blown west by the prevailing winds until they hit the drainage divide...the hills that separate Pattalung and Trang.

 

When they hit the cooler temperatures in these hills, they condense into heavy, if not torrential, rains. (see image 3)...then it is flash-flooding in the villages in the lower hills and then all the water is channeled through the existing streams and rivers (image 2) past all the pig farms and - you guessed it -- back into Songkhla Lake.

 

So the more flooding there is, the more rain there is likely to be from terrestrial evaporation -- as if we don't get enough already from the sea.

 

Now the authorities are actually excavating sections of Rt 408 where it passes though the Rap Praek Intersection, the one where you head west to get to Ranode Town.

 

The fact that they have to do this is a testament to bad planning and a complete failure of inter-agency cooperation, not to mention a lack of simple common sense: water always flows downhill.

 

There is an old saying in Ranode that 'when the Lake meets the sea it will be the end of Ranode'. (my translation)

 

Maybe they should tweak that to read: 'when the Lake doesn't meet the Sea' it will be the end of Ranode'.

 

It certainly feels like we are drowning here...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ranode drainage.png

songkhla Lake Basin.jpg

 

RANOD RAIN.png

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I was wondering how you were coping up at Ranode, sorry to hear you're flooded again this year.

 

Your story of the R408 'Dam' is very similar to what occurred when we lived in Khuan Lang, just west of Hat Yai. They didn't put in enough culverts when they upgraded the Hat Yai by-pass, so we got flooded first year we were there, road just acted as a huge dam.

 

They never seem to learn, though one suspects the original design included enough drains, just that when it got built, cost saving penny pinching meant, they didn't get put in.

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Absolutely correct...Here is a photo of a ditch they are digging directly perpendicular and across Route 408 in Pak Tre, just south of the Rap Praek junction....I don't know if the road will remain passable after the flowing water takes its inevitable, erosive effect.

pak tre crop.png

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One thing I will add is that the Thai spirit really comes through during tough times like these. It kind of reminds me of being in Phuket for the tsunami.

 

Most of my neighbors have been living in knee- to waist-deep, polluted water for already a week, yet they somehow remain in good spirits -- and never cease to get excited about seeing the token farang slogging through their now semi-aquatic community on a booze run, grumbling all the way.

 

This afternoon I walked through the canal-side community here to the shop where they sell imported spirits at a highly-reduced rate...business as usual, even though the transaction went through in knee-deep water.

 

The thing I am just starting to understand/appreciate is how these floods extinguish  life.

 

We had a period with centipedes, cockroaches, newts, salamanders, worms, cats, puppy dogs and & grasshoppers and even some birds trying to find refuge in our place. It's tough. We are all gods, in a way. I only went to (chemical) warfare with the ants. They are formidable.

 

And then the rains abated. \We had fish swimming around in our front yard, on our soi. It's just amazing how resilient life, in its myriad forms, can be.

 

At the same time, one can really feel the loss of energy. Maybe some of it just got sucked under the water. Whatever: Life prevails.

 

I hope I am not totally embarrassed by this tomorrow,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last near miss we had a couple of years back, the water reached the wall below the small terrace area behind the kitchen overlooking the river. The kids and my mother-in-law were sat on the wall watching the water rise. The water came up quickly and with it a wave of creepy crawlies that swarmed up the wall and onto the terrace. Much shrieking and screaming ensued, followed by frantic brushing and spraying of Baygone.

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7 hours ago, Stocky said:

Last near miss we had a couple of years back, the water reached the wall below the small terrace area behind the kitchen overlooking the river. The kids and my mother-in-law were sat on the wall watching the water rise. The water came up quickly and with it a wave of creepy crawlies that swarmed up the wall and onto the terrace. Much shrieking and screaming ensued, followed by frantic brushing and spraying of Baygone.

That reminds me of a time I went on an English Language Summer Camp to Khao Yai with a bunch of hi-so kids from Bangkok. We went hiking and some leeches got on them and it was like a scene from one of those Hollywood B horror movies. ..

 

Anyway, I am happy to report that the flood waters are way down after two days of sun.

 

Fortunately the TMD's prediction of more heavy rain over the last few days was inaccurate.

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6 hours ago, phuketsub said:

That reminds me of a time I went on an English Language Summer Camp to Khao Yai with a bunch of hi-so kids from Bangkok. We went hiking and some leeches got on them and it was like a scene from one of those Hollywood B horror movies. ..

 

Anyway, I am happy to report that the flood waters are way down after two days of sun.

 

Fortunately the TMD's prediction of more heavy rain over the last few days was inaccurate.

 

 

This happened to me in Chieng Mai back in the day..hi so kids and inept teacher planning....but they still  carried on... I left.

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Another storm  post Xmas weekend arriving this weekend?

 

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19 hours ago, Rhys said:

Another storm  post Xmas weekend arriving this weekend?

 

It just petered out...no real effect down here, except that it turned the normal monsoonal flow into unusual northerly (then southerly) winds for a period. We are actually lucky that we don't get many real depressions passing through our land of smiles.

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Here is one of the key sticking points for local drainage, the outlet to the sea at Pak Tre in Ranode. The built a new bridge (the vantage point for this photo) and had a huge project intended to do away with the old bridge and create a little harbor for longtail fishing boats. The sea, which is very sandy and shallow, had other ideas...If they maintained an ability to actually dredge it before and during the monsoon season it might make a difference. As can obviously be seen they chose to deploy pumps instead...

 

DSv5eqqVwAAU5zj.jpg

 

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