September 1, 2022
BANGKOK – Dr Seri Suprathit, director of Rangsit University’s Climate Change and Disaster Centre, also urged the government to start preparing now or rising seas would swamp the capital in a mere 20 years.
He reiterated his centre’s forecast that the country could be hit by 23 storms this year. Eight storms have passed but 15 more are to come.
Seri’s apocalyptic view of possible storms earlier prompted the government to issue a “fake news warning” and urge the public to monitor and believe information only from the Meteorological Department.
Seri warned that the heaviest rainfall would be similar to heavy downpours in Seoul recently that caused massive flooding there. The Seoul situation was dubbed “80-year-level” rains.
“The chance is high that the situation here will be similar to the massive floods in 2011 because the amount of rainfall would be similar,” Seri claimed.
“In 2011, the floodwaters came very fast from upstream and by water released from dams. But this year, the floods would be caused by rainfall and by the fact that the storm belt would move down to the central region, causing all rice fields to be flooded and spilling over to economic areas,” he warned.
Seri forecast the heavy rains that could last for days would fall between September and November.
He said his centre would be able to predict coming storms about ten days in advance and the amount of rainfall.
He expressed concern whether farmers in the Chao Phraya basin, whose rice fields would become flood retention areas, would be able to harvest their rice within 15 days on being alerted that storms were coming.
Seri also called on the government to make models of possible weather scenarios to warn people in advance so that they would cooperate in mitigation measures.
Seri said Bangkok and suburban areas are at risk of being inundated and the capital might have to be moved out if nothing was done to avert a disaster.
He explained three major factors for likely flooding in greater Bangkok:
– Rainfall. Fifteen more storms would possibly hit Thailand and might unleash more than 1,200mm rainfall or the so-called “100-year rains”.
– Runoffs and overflowing rivers, which would be caused by heavy rains in upper Thailand. Seri said the heaviest rainfalls there would happen in October.
– Rising sea water. Seri is “very worried” as it could be permanent.
“Rainfall and runoffs occur in the rainy season, but the phenomenon of permanent high sea levels is very worrying. Foreign research ranks Bangkok seventh highest at risk of flooding caused by constantly rising seas,” the director pointed out.
He noted that earlier studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Japan and Nasa found that Bangkok’s seashores would be under water because of a sea rise.
“Together with high amounts of rain and runoffs, Bangkok would be sandwiched with flood troubles and it would unavoidably go under water,” he warned.
Seri said it required urgent measures from the national government to avert the effect of a sea rise as the Bangkok governor would not have enough power to carry out such megaprojects.
The climate-change expert said it would require the building of a comprehensive network of seashore embankments, similar to those constructed in South Korea, to prevent flooding from rising sea levels. He noted that embankments to prevent inundation at Changi took 30 years to complete.
Moreover, he said, the entire drainage system of Bangkok would have to be overhauled as the current one could no longer handle the flood situation.
Seri said comprehensive seashore embankments would prevent flooding in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram and Chachoengsao.
However, the megaprojects would affect the way of life of local people like fishermen.
Seri was the one who came out to warn about massive flooding in Bangkok in 2011. At that time, his centre used scales of numbers of whales to illustrate the amount of massive floodwaters that would flow down to Bangkok because the Yingluck government miscalculated the water amount and had to release huge volumes of water from reservoirs after a series of big storms. His warning was dismissed by the government at that time.