Tropical Storm Pabuk edges closer
Thailand’s first tropical storm in three decades, packing winds of up to 80 kph (50 mph), is expected to make landfall on Friday evening, sending thousands of people flocking to shelter inland and shutting down two major airports.
High waves & strong winds
The winds accompanying tropical storm Pabuk churned up high waves and gusts in the Gulf of Thailand, ahead of its arrival in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat.
Weather officials warned of torrential downpours and strong winds in 15 provinces in the Thai south, home to one of the world’s largest natural rubber plantations and several islands thronged by tourists.
“The strong winds are forecast with waves up to 3 to 5 meters high in the Gulf and 2 to 3 meters high in the Andaman Sea. All ships (should) keep ashore,” the Thai Meteorological Department said. The conditions would persist into Saturday.
Eye of the storm
Pabuk, which means giant catfish in Lao, is forecast to pass over the narrow neck of land between the Gulf of Thailand and into the Andaman Sea — home to the tourist resorts of Phuket and the Similan National Park, a diving paradise.
The eye of the storm is forecast to pass over Nakhon Si Thammarat, sparing the tourist islands to the north from a direct hit.
Tens of thousands of tourists have already fled the southern zone.
Over the past few days, 6,176 people have been evacuated to shelters from Nakhon Si Thammarat as well as the provinces of Pattani, Songkhla and Yala.
Tropical Storm: Possibly Thailand’s worst in nearly 30 years
There are fears that the storm will be the worst to hit Thailand since 1989, when Typhoon Gay left more than 400 people dead.
A tropical storm in 1962 killed more than 900 people in the south.