Mr Wiraphon said that further cloud seeding is planned but can only be done when two key factors coincide; clouds must be present and air traffic must be such that it permits the Royal Rainmakers to undertake the operation.
“Air traffic is a major factor as Phuket and Krabi airports are very busy and therefore the window of opportunity is small,” Mr Wiraphon said.
“We monitor both the weather and air traffic every day to find the right opportunity to carry out the cloud seeding.”
Kancharee Simueang, Officer at Phuket Provincial Agriculture and Cooperatives Office, told The Phuket News yesterday (Apr 26), “We have been coordinating with the Southern Royal Rainmaking Operation Centre in Surat Thani since March 22. Since then I have been providing them with weather reports each day which they assess to determine the right time to begin cloud seeding.
“The Royal Rainmakers have already attempted to induce rain in Phuket three times this year but the attempts failed,” she confirmed.
“The first failed attempt was on March 29 when the rain fell in Phang Nga instead of Phuket.
“We attempted again on March 31 but that time the rain fell in the Andaman Sea.
“The third attempt was on Tuesday (Apr 23) which did not induce any rain at all.”
The Phuket News spoke with Phuket Public Relations Department Chief Bussaya Chaipeum yesterday (Apr 26), who said, “We decided to request the help of Royal Rainmakers because we think that the ongoing water shortage in Phuket may lead to a crisis.”
Meanwhile Phuket Governor Phakaphong Tavipatana contacted Dr Surasri Kidtimonton, Director General of the Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation (DRRAA), to expedite the rainmaking process.
Back in February, Gov Phakaphong lifted planned water restrictions on the island when he agreed to call in the Royal Rainmakers, ordering water officials to “find another way” to resolve the island’s water shortages. (See story here.)
On Tuesday (Apr 23), just hours after the Gov Phakaphong held a press conference to specifically explain that Phuket is not suffering a drought crisis, about 80 residents from Rassada staged a protest in front of Phuket Provincial Hall over the lack of water supply to their community.
News of the situation reached Lt Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, Commander of the Fourth Army Region base in Nakhon Sri Thammarat – the leading Army base in all of Southern Thailand – who then ordered his troops to provide emergency relief water to water-starved communities across Phuket starting with an initial delivery of 45,000 litres that arrived the following day. (See story here.)