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Phuket Opinion: Feeling the heat

PHUKET: The Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) heat index warnings that spread across popular Phuket social media channels like wildfire on Friday (Apr 21) certainly set the cat among the pigeons with reports that the “real feel” heat in Phuket will be the same as if it were 54°C.

By The Phuket News

Sunday 23 April 2023, 09:00AM

The report that scared many people into thinking the ’real feel’ temperature in Phuket will hit 54°C. Image: TMD

The report that scared many people into thinking the ’real feel’ temperature in Phuket will hit 54°C. Image: TMD

Anyone actually on the island over the past few days knows that it has been just as hot as it has been for more than the past week, with maximum temperatures hovering around 36°C. In short, it has been hot, even for island residents nevermind for tourists, but certainly not the potentially life-threatening extreme of above 50°C.

The Phuket News chose not to run the report for several reasons, first and foremost to avoid scaremongering. Such notices need care in explaining exactly what information they are trying to relate, and can be easily misinterpreted. Oversimplification, as “fast news” these days is prone to do, will only do more harm.

The report is featured as a daily standard at the bottom of the TMD website, along with some 21 other “slides’ offering detailed weather forecasts for the country, including UV exposure risk.

The report also bears the insignia of the Ministry of Health’s Department of Health, who are credited as co-creators of the report.

Local officials did well to not jump on the bandwagon by echoing the misleading reports circulating on Friday. They also did well to just remind people of the dangers of heat stroke, just as they did when the hot weather began in earnest at the beginning of the month.

One “nice” reminder posted on Friday called on people to beware how hot it gets in cars during such heat, and the dangers of leaving items such as mobile phone battery packs and lighters in cars left parked in the sun.

Open Kitchen Laguna

What the “daily heat index” forecast did mark is that both the TMD and the Ministry of Health recognise that particle dust and haze also play a vital factor in how the temperature will affect actual people on the ground ‒ in addition to temperature and humidity, the two most common factors people attribute to the “real feel” of weather.

Phuket’s current haze, although finally abating, is adding to the “real feel” of the hot weather, and that is something that deserves commendation.

With Phuket’s ‘haze season’ now even confirmed by local officials ‒ albeit in an oblique way ‒ as an annual event that occurs as the seasons start to change, they can now finally address it for what it is: a national factor that affects Phuket’s tourism.

With all the officials at every level bleating about the country’s aspirations for creating a ‘Bio-Circular-Green’ (BCG) model economy, just like they have been told to, here is one thing staring them in the face that is directly affecting it.

If officials are thinking that the pollution doesn’t affect Phuket because it is created hundreds of kilometres away, they need to think again.

They might also want to consider how this will affect their aspirations to host the World Specialised Expo. ‘Phuket Expo 2028’, as it has been branded, is due to be held that year from Mar 20 to June 17 ‒ right in Phuket’s ‘haze season’ sweet spot.

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JohnC | 23 April 2023 - 10:00:58

Don't worry so much about mobile phones and battery packs left in cars. Make sure not to leave your children or babies inside! May sound down right obvious to us but the amount of kids left in locked cars outside casinos by Asian gamblers in my home country is astounding.

Kurt | 23 April 2023 - 09:48:45

Temp in afternoon in the shadow in my garden daily is 35-37 degrees. Out, in the sun, must be hotter. Laying in hot sand beaches without umbrella must be a torture. At least good for promoting skin cancer, with the extra help of the air pollution.


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