Thailand is experiencing some highly unusual weather at present. A cold snap hit the country last week with temperatures reaching record lows in certain areas. Bangkok has experienced three different weather patterns in a week, with winter cold, monsoon rain and tropical heat all present on different days last week. This week has started of particularly cold, with temperatures in the city dropping to below 20 degrees. In areas of Chiang Mai district temperatures may fall to below 10 degrees.
Meteorologists said the snap was only due to last a few more days and has been caused due to a low-pressure ridge. Officials also said they expected the hot season weather to return from the beginning of April, where figures between 30-40 degrees can normally be expected. Mid April and May tend to be the hottest times of the year in many parts of Thailand so it is particularly disconcerting to see residents in Bangkok resembling their neighbours in Hanoi with large winter jackets and scarves in March. The cold snap has also affected rice crops in the north east of the country, killing thousands of acres of freshly planted paddy fields. Birds and mammals have also struggled to adapt to the conditions.
In southern Thailand rains have been causing havoc in a number of provinces with flood waters closing roads and airports. Koh Samui airport has closed temporarily, stranding thousands of passengers. Ferries between the mainland and Koh Samui, Koh Pha Ngan and Koh Tao were also suspended yesterday due to high waves and choppy seas. Reports are still emerging but it seems there will be some lasting damage to some of Samui’s fragile infrastructure.
To put this topsy-turvy weather in perspective, it is important not to expand these conditions to a country-wide phenomenon. Whilst the provinces of Trang, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Surat Thani, Songkhla and Phatthalung have been affected by severe rains and flooding, 47 other provinces in the country are currently experiencing a drought. Make of all that what you will!
Perhaps the most freaky incident to occur as a result of the adverse weather patterns was at Suan Somdej Phra Sri Nakharin Park, where Nakhon Si Thammarat municipality’s zoo is located. Zoo workers were involved in a massive hunt for animals that escaped during the flooding. Eleven Crocodiles and two bears were amongst those that found freedom in the chaos, with some of them still remaining at large.
Experience Travel in Thailand will be monitoring the situation and adapting our client’s itineraries in due course, as we see fit. We currently don’t see too much cause for concern in the longer-term, but would definitely suggest slipping an extra jacket or long-sleeve top in your luggage, just in case…