Winds gusted up to about 40 knots (about 75km/h), depending on which reports you read. The Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) initially reported a relatively mild breeze of between 11-16 km/h (only about 6-8.6 knots), but days later revised their wind speed assessments to 31.5km/h near Phuket Airport on Monday and 48km/h last Sunday near Phuket Town.
Yet even then any persons with experience in strong winds held those reports in doubt, especially when other independent and well-respected weather services reported much more believable wind speeds in excess of 40 knots.
And this is where the problems begin. If you cannot trust even your national weather service to give accurate reports in a timely fashion, what can you trust local government services to provide adequately?
Well, residents and tourists found out. The strong winds lashed driving rain across the island, pushing down large trees and, of course, power lines. Blackouts struck so many pockets of residential and tourist-popular areas that they might have well been just one whole power outage.
To be fair, Provincial Electricity Authority (PEA) workers braved the foul weather to restore power as quickly and safely as they could, but the question remains for their superiors of how they intend to prevent the next storm from doing the same. We look forward to reading about that one day.
But in Phuket one poor infrastructure problem befalls another. Hard to believe, but many areas were affected without – of all things – water supply, as the power outages rendered mains water pump stations useless. Yes, while it was teeming down outside, people had no water to flush their toilets inside. That’s Phuket for you.
Storms do cause damage and this was a strong one, but it was hardly a disaster. Phuket suffers at least one strong storm each rainy season, it is literally in the nature of the place. Yet declare a disaster for some people our Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Phuket office (DDPM-Phuket) Chief Prapan Kanprasang do this in order to access funds to provide assistance to the families of some 90-plus homes damaged by the storm. We are thankful that common sense will prevail there.