Thailand flooding update November 16, 2011: All dry in 2 weeks?

Here’s the latest as of 1 p.m. today, Wed. November 16, 2011:

Note: I have not come across any interesting new maps or images in recent days, so this post, along with future ones, may simply include links to notable news stories.

Remember that for previous summaries of the situation, maps, images, etc., see the Thailand flooding tag.

And for more frequent updates, you can follow me on Twitter.

News reports

The AP reports today:

Flood waters in Thailand’s capital are continually receding and all main streets will be dry in two weeks, authorities said Wednesday, providing long-overdue good news after months of inundation that have killed 564 people nationwide.

Also Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will announce a “substantial” aid package when she arrives on a hastily arranged trip to express solidarity, officials said.

A New York Times story from yesterday says:

Troops and army trucks are rolling through the streets of Bangkok again. But this time it is not to battle protesters or overthrow a prime minister.

Instead, they are ferrying residents around the city on heavy-duty military vehicles that can get through its flooded streets, with banners on each one reading “Royal Thai Army helping the people.”

In a country deeply divided over the military’s role in civilian life, Thailand’s top generals have used the floods, the worst the country has had in decades, as an opportunity to showcase the army’s friendlier side.

The WSJ‘s Southeast Asia Real Time reports:

Thailand’s transport authorities have a fresh flood problem — people are putting metal spikes on submerged roads.

In some parts of the country, unknown persons have placed spikes on the road in an apparent bid to puncture vehicle tires and prevent buses and supply trucks getting in and out of affected areas. Some officials suspect profiteers selling basic goods at inflated prices are to blame as they try to prevent relief efforts getting to badly affected areas. Others say boat operators might be sabotaging the relief effort because the arrival of trucks in flooded areas threatens their business.

And finally, for a glimpse at the lighter side of the Thai floods, check out the Thai Flood Hacks site, which showcases innovations like animal flotation devices and improvised boats.

Related AP story:

Flooded out but still want to make a fashion statement? Try these lime green rubber boots. Feeling stir crazy with the fetid waters surrounding your home? How about special snorkels to keep your car running in high water – or a jet ski to navigate submerged streets?

In Bangkok, a tireless Asian mega-city never shy about making a buck, an ongoing flood disaster has provided plenty of opportunity for business ingenuity to flourish.

(All emphasis mine.)


Thailand flooding update November 14, 2011: Controversial “big bags”

Here’s the latest as of 10:30 p.m. Bangkok time today, Mon. November 14, 2011:


  • The northern sections of Bangkok continue to be the hardest hit, with large flood barriers — so-called “big bags” — creating controversy. (See the Bangkok Post story below.)
  • MRT (subway) and BTS (Skytrain) stations continue to operate normally.
  • Central Bangkok is still largely dry.
  • Thailand’s international airport, Suvarnabhumi, continues to function normally. Don Muang airport remains closed, but most domestic flights are now going through Suvarnabhumi.
  • One question that many people are asking now is: When will the floodwaters drain? The answer seems unclear.

New maps

The Wall Street Journal ran this helpful map Sat. that puts the Bangkok flooding in perspective and showing the area’s industrial estates:

2011 11 11 bangkok flooding wsj

This Bangkok Post map is several days old, but it shows roads that have been hit by flooding.

2011 11 14 bkk post flooding map

Here’s a bigger version.

News reports

The Bangkok Post says today:

City authorities and 20 flood-hit communities in Don Muang have come to a three-point agreement on the ‘big bag’ barrier problem, Bangkok Governor Sukhumbhand Paribatra said on Monday afternoon.


“The Don Muang residents don’t want to remove all the big bags. They only want some of them removed to relieve their hardship.

The WSJ reports today:

The Thai delegation came to the Asia summit here with a special agenda: to dispel doubts about the country’s future as the manufacturing hub of Southeast Asia, pledging massive investment to prevent a recurrence of the current devastating floods.

The New York Times‘s Latitude blog says today:

In the industrial estate of Lat Krabang, a few kilometers from Bangkok’s international airport, Honda workers clad in ghost white are standing around the shuttered factory, like the idle employees of a suspended space program. The floodwaters are approaching from the north and the east, raising canal levels and bubbling up through drainage systems. One of the men says that the defenses — sandbags and plastic sheets — can withstand one meter of water, but no more.

The AP reports from Ayutthaya:

Water fowl, monitor lizards and stray dogs have replaced the throngs of tourists at one of Thailand’s greatest historical sites. Record flooding has turned Ayutthaya’s ancient temples into islands, and a giant statue of the reclining Buddha appears to float miraculously on the lapping water.

The CSM ran this story last week:

Central Thailand’s devastating months-long flood, which has so far cost some 500 lives and billions of dollars in damage, has made for countless poignant scenes and memorable images. But that hasn’t stopped some journalists from staging their own, highlighting an ongoing issue that undermines the credibility and purpose of reporting.

(All emphasis mine.)

The standard reminders:

Administrative reminder

I may not post every day going forward, but will aim to share major developments and useful resources as time allows.


Thailand flooding update November 10, 2011: More of the same

Here’s the latest as of 6 p.m. Bangkok time today, Thurs. November 10, 2011:


  • The northern sections of Bangkok continue to be the hardest hit.
  • Some MRT (subway) and BTS Skytrain stations are being monitored as waters draw near, but so these networks continue to operate normally.
  • Central Bangkok is still largely dry.
  • Thailand’s international airport, Suvarnabhumi, is still functioning normally. Don Muang airport remains closed, but most domestic flights are now going through Suvarnabhumi.

Images from a crocodile hunting expedition

As promised, here are some images I snapped yesterday during an outing to search for a suspected crocodile in the Ramintra area of northern Bangkok.

Officials at Thailand’s Fisheries Dept. received a call from residents there saying they had seen what appeared to be a crocodile eating two of their chickens. So the croc experts set out to investigate.

These images show the extent of the flooding in this part of the city. You can see all of the photos in this Flickr set.

I was impressed by the diligence and good humor that the workers displayed, and I thought that the residents were remarkably upbeat given their difficult circumstances.

For the record: No crocodile was found, though the officials left some traps baited with raw chicken just in case.

DSC 9246
Above: you have to love the croc illustration

DSC 9274
Above: taking to the waters

DSC 9279
Above: residents who reported the croc sighting

DSC 9264
Above: neighbors

IMG 0574
Above: searching

IMG 0573
Above: on the lookout

New maps

Here’s a map from the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration that I understand shows flooding depths in the city. Screen shot:

2011 11 10 bangkok flooding bma

Meanwhile, Richard Barrow, of ThaiTravelNews, is maintaining a Bangkok Flood Map for Tourists:

View Bangkok Flood Map for Tourists – แผนที่น้ำท่วมกรุงเทพสำหรับนักท่องเที่ยว in a larger map

News reports

Reuters says:

Thai consumer confidence fell to a 10-year low in October because of flooding that has taken 533 lives and shut thousands of factories, with another industrial estate threatened on Thursday as water spread in the east of the capital, Bangkok

Bloomberg reports:

Thai economic forecasters said floods that have swamped factories and displaced millions over the past month may crimp gross domestic product growth this year to as little as 0.5 percent if all of Bangkok is inundated.

(All emphasis mine.)

The standard reminders:

Administrative reminder

I may not post every day going forward, but will aim to share major developments and useful resources as time allows.


Self-promotion: New WSJ Southeast Asia Real Time story on Loi Krathong

I have a story on the Wall St. Journal‘s Southeast Asia Real Time blog today called “Floating Lantern Festival Continues Despite Thai Floods.”

It begins:

A popular Thai holiday in which candle-laden lanterns are floated along waterways and launched into the skies has been disrupted in Bangkok due to ongoing flooding, but festivities are continuing as planned in some other parts of the country.

Click through to read the rest.

More soon on the flooding that continues here in Bangkok.

For a taste of what I did today — hint: it involved hunting for a crocodile — see my recent Tweets.

Stay tuned.


Self-promotion: New WSJ Southeast Asia Real Time story with Thailand flooding info for travelers

I have a story on the Wall St. Journal‘s Southeast Asia Real Time blog today called “Thai Flooding Raises Dilemmas For Travelers.”

It begins:

Although inner portions of Bangkok remain dry from recent floods, the waters continue to seep into more areas, raising big dilemmas for tourists and business travelers over whether to proceed to Bangkok in the coming weeks.

Click through for the latest on what’s up here in Bangkok and surrounding areas.


Thailand flooding update November 7, 2011: death toll surpasses 500

Here’s the latest as of 6 p.m. Bangkok time today, Mon. November 7, 2011:


  • Floodwaters continue to swamp Lad Prao and surrounding areas, in Bangkok’s north. Chatuchak district is now also affected.
  • Some MRT (subway) stations are still being monitored, but both that network and the BTS Sky Train system are still running.
  • The death toll has risen above 500.
  • Central Bangkok is still largely dry.
  • Again, a reminder: Thailand’s international airport, Suvarnabhumi, is still functioning normally, though the domestic airport, Don Muang, remains closed.
  • New maps/images

    Here are some cell phone images I snapped late this afternoon just outside the Lad Prao MRT station, near the Ratchada-Lad Prao intersection.

    The water was about shin-deep. This is looking to the south:

    IMG 0535

    To the right of this image (below) is a Lad Prao MRT station entrance, which remains dry despite the surrounding water.

    IMG 0534

    City busses were still running.

    IMG 0533

    Meanwhile, Sunday’s Bangkok Post ran this map of “Flood Protection in Eastern Bangkok”

    2011 11 06 bkk post east bangkok

    News reports

    The AP says today:

    The death toll from Thailand’s worst floods in half a century climbed above 500, as advancing pools of polluted black water threatened Bangkok’s subway system Monday and new evacuations were ordered in the sprawling capital.

    The latest district added to the government’s evacuation list late Sunday was Chatuchak, home to a large public park and an outdoor shopping zone that is a major tourist attraction. The Chatuchak Weekend Market was open but missing many vendors and customers Sunday as floodwaters poured past the market’s eastern edge.

    So far, Bangkok Gov. Sukhumbhand Paribatra has ordered evacuations in 11 of Bangkok’s 50 districts, and partial evacuations apply in seven more.
    The evacuations are not mandatory, and most people are staying to protect homes and businesses. But the orders illustrate how far flooding has progressed into the city and how powerless the government has been to stop it.

    Bloomberg reports:

    Thai officials moved to defend two Bangkok industrial parks near the main international airport from a deluge that has swamped hundreds of factories over the past month and is now coursing through the capital.

    More than 100 pumps are pushing out water leaking into Bang Chan industrial zone in eastern Bangkok, according to Vice Industry Minister Suparp Kleekhajai. Nearby Lad Krabang industrial estate includes a factory operated by Honda Motor Co., which abandoned its full-year profit forecast last week after another plant was flooded.

    “The situation in Bang Chan industrial estate is still manageable,” Suparp said in an interview with the TNN television network. “We can still pump out the leaked water so far.”

    The NYT says:

    In the neck-deep floodwaters of an industrial zone here, workers are using Jet Skis and wooden skiffs to transport stacks of computer components out of waterlogged factories.

    Three weeks after monsoon run-off swamped more than 1,000 factories across central Thailand, the brown, corrosive floodwaters have only slightly receded, leaving the world’s largest computer makers without a reliable forecast about when crucial parts will be available once again.

    The WSJ reports:

    When Thais see Sorayut Suthasanajinda’s Channel 3 news team in their neighborhood, they know their country’s spreading floods, which have now claimed over 500 lives, can’t be far behind.

    For weeks Mr. Sorayut has waded through brackish water, microphone in hand, bringing the full scale of the slow-motion disaster home to television viewers even as government leaders continue to reassure people that the worst is over. He has also turned his television news show into something of a first-responder rescue service that has helped fill the gaps in the Thai government’s own patchy aid efforts, quickly raising over $12 million in donations and creating a logistics machine that flings relief packages stuffed with noodles, burgers, bottled water and toilet paper to stranded victims perched on roofs or leaning out of second-story windows.

    Now that the floods are moving to the edge of Bangkok’s business district after decimating much of the country’s manufacturing base, some people who thought they would be safe from floods are seeing Mr. Sorayut popping up in their backyards, too.

    (All emphasis mine.)

    What has caused the flooding?

    And finally, thanks to my friend H for asking whether the amount the rain this year has been remarkably higher than in years past.

    For more on this subject, I suggest the New Mandala blog, which has has some charts showing that rainfall throughout Thailand this year was, indeed, much heavier than in years past.

    In addition, the Bangkok Pundit blog has several posts about the level of water in Thailand’s dams this year, which could be an issue.

    The standard reminders:

    Administrative reminder

    I may not post every day going forward, but will aim to share major developments and useful resources as time allows.


    Thailand flooding update November 4, 2011: Floods continue; Chatuchak and Lad Phrao affected

    Here’s the latest as of 7 p.m. Bangkok time today, Fri. November 4, 2011:


    • The flooding here in Thailand continues, and waters have now hit the Lad Phrao intersection, in Bangkok’s north.
    • Some subway stations are being monitored, but the system is still operating normally. (Note: this is the unground MRT, not the BTS Sky Train.)
    • A reminder: The country’s international airport is still functioning normally, and most of central Bangkok has not been affected.

    New maps and images

    The Bangkok Post has this satellite map of the flooding…

    2011 11 04 thailand flooding sat

    …as well as a map of the Min Buri area:

    2011 11 04 thai flood bkk post min buri

    NASA’s Earth Observatory site has a Nov. 1 satellite image of Southeast Asia:

    2011 11 04 nasa

    (Be sure to view the side-by-side comparison featuring normal conditions.)

    There’s a new version of the GISTDA map showing Thailand flooding through Nov. 2:

    2011 11 04 thailand flooding animated

    Click through to view the animated GIF.

    And finally, The Atlantic‘s In Focus photo blog has a new round up of flooding images.

    News reports

    The Bangkok Post reports:

    Thailand’s worst floods in half a century reached the edge of downtown Bangkok on Friday, threatening some underground rail stations and forcing the closure of a major shopping centre.


    A spokesman for the Bangkok metro said that three subway stations — Lat Phrao, Phahon Yothin and Chatuchak Park — were at risk and might have to be shut down if the water rose to 40 centimetres (16 inches) outside.

    The AP says:

    Thailand’s record floods encroached deeper into the capital Friday, swamping a major intersection in the northern edge of the city center and threatening the subway system.

    The water from the country’s worst flooding in more than half a century was filling Bangkok’s Lad Phrao intersection, where three major roads meet. Office towers, condominiums and a popular shopping mall are in the area, where local media say the water is 15 inches (40 centimeters) deep. The intersection is just down the street from the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market, a key tourist attraction.

    Stay tuned for more.

    The standard reminders:

    Administrative reminder

    I may not post every day going forward, but will aim to share major developments and useful resources as time allows.


    Self-promotion: New WSJ Southeast Asia Real Time story on Safari World

    I have a new story at the Wall Street Journal’s Southeast Asia Real Time blog today. The headline: “Another Bangkok Zoo Gets Hit By Flooding.”

    It starts:

    Another zoo in the Bangkok area has been hit as floodwaters continue to swamp the city.

    Proprietors at Safari World – among the more popular destinations for families here – said they shut down the facility on Thursday after authorities opened a flood gate at a nearby canal following demonstrations by local residents, causing the zoo’s flooding defenses to be overwhelmed.

    The animals inside the facility are not at risk — for now. But the situation has forced officials at the 500-acre complex to scramble to find dry ground for the lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes and other animals that roam there.

    (Click through for a photo of zebras splashing through the floodwaters.)


    Spotted today on lower Sukhumvit…

    The Thailand flooding updates will continue when there are significant developments, provided I have time.

    But for now, I wanted to share this lighthearted image.

    As I tweeted earlier today, I noticed this sign outside a tailor shop on lower Sukhumvit. An enterprising proprietor indeed:

    2011 11 03 thailand flooding sign

    “Flooding season.” I like that. (I also like the smiley face.)

    Stay tuned…


    Thailand flooding update, November 2, 2011: Front page of today’s Bangkok Post

    I’ve been pressed for time today, so this won’t be a full-length post. But I wanted to share this cell phone pic:

    2011 11 02 bkk post front page

    This is the front page of today’s Bangkok Post.

    I wanted to point it out to illustrate that there still seems to be a great deal of uncertainty about what will happen next with the flooding situation.

    While authorities have said in previous days that things seemed to be improving, this is the headline we see today.

    Yes, I’m aware that this is, ultimately, the newspaper’s description of events, but still: Just glancing at their home page now, two adjacent headlines are as follows:

    09:33 p.m.: Flood advances into Bangkok
    09:22 p.m.: Situation ‘will be better soon’

    Just noting this, for the record.

    Elsewhere, here are stories today from the AP and Bloomberg.

    And, for perspective, here’s an AP story from yesterday about the Thai king and water management through the years.

    That’s it for now. More soon.