Rainmakers to 'shoot down' hail

A cloud dispersal operation will begin over the North today to prevent severe hail storms threatening the region.

The operation, to be carried out by the air force and the Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department, is aimed at reducing possible damage from the storms on homes and crops.

Royal rainmaking unit chief Ratchani Tarumatsawat said experts would be sent aboard Alpha Jet aircraft to locate rain clouds which are likely to develop into hail storms and “shoot” them with silver iodide.

The operation will induce rainfall from the clouds before hail storms are given the chance to develop, rainmaking department expert Sinchai Thangtambon said.

The operation will run until May 15, he added.

The Meteorological Department has warned of isolated hail and thunderstorms from tomorrow until Monday, mainly in the upper part of the country.

The weather conditions will occur through a clash between a large high pressure system bringing in cold air from China and the current hot weather in Thailand.

A westerly trough expected to cover the upper part of the country between tomorrow and Monday is expected to add to the storm conditions, the department said.

Residents in Nong Khai, Bung Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Sakon Nakhon, Khon Kaen, Amnat Charoen, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Buri Ram and Nakhon Ratchasima have been told to brace for severe weather conditions over the next two days.

Storms are also expected to hit Chaiyaphum, Phetchabun, Nakhon Sawan, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Ayutthaya, Chai Nat, Kanchanaburi and Suphan Buri.

Bangkok and nearby provinces are also expected to face strong winds and rain during this period.

Storms are expected in most northern provinces over the weekend, especially in Tak, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Chiang Rai, Nan, Phrae, Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Uttaradit and Phetchabun.

The rainfall will help relieve residents suffering from high temperatures, which have exceeded 40 degrees in some provinces.

It will also help reduce the thick haze blanketing several northern provinces. Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Phayao, Chiang Mai, Lampang and Phrae are encountering harmful levels of tiny dust particles, known as particulate matter (PM) 10, as a result of the haze.

The dust, which is less than 10 micrometres in diameter, is causing major health concerns as it can easily enter human lungs.

Meanwhile, drought continues to affect many provinces, with soldiers being called in to transport water to villages in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Muang district.

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