Thunderstorms, strong winds and hail are expected in the North, Northeast, East and the Central Region including Bangkok, from Sunday to Tuesday as the country transitions to the summer season.
The Pollution Control Department (PCD), meanwhile, has sounded the alarm over high levels of hazardous ultra-fine PM2.5 dust particles in the capital and surrounding provinces from March 14-16.
In a separate warning, the Meteorological Department said thunderstorms are forecast as a moderate high-pressure system from China is moving over the upper part of Thailand and the South China Sea, while westerly winds are moving into the northern region.
It said the weather system would cause thunderstorms in the aforementioned regions during this period, with hail and lightning also possible.
PCD director-general Pinsak Suraswadi said the air quality, in general, may worsen today in some areas, but it is expected to improve from Sunday due to winds from the South.
However, the situation may worsen again in the following days and the public is urged to closely monitor the level of harmful dust particles and take the necessary precautions, he said.
All areas in the 17 northern provinces recorded a higher level of PM2.5 yesterday, ranging from 91 to 136 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m3). The highest level was registered in Sukhothai’s Muang district, where open-air burning was reported to be commonplace.
The Northeast also registered a higher level of PM2.5 with 15 pollution hotspots in Loei, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom and Bung Kan, where the level of dust hovered between 94 and 124 µg/m3.
Bangkok’s air quality was moderate, with PM2.5 levels slightly dropping. However, levels that exceeded the safety threshold of 50 µg/m3 were reported in 89 areas.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday urged farmers to stop burning crops to help tackle the dust pollution, saying the government did not want to have to crack down on them.
“We don’t want to use the law because people will be in trouble. We don’t want that. But they should think about public health, too,” he said.
Gen Prayut said the government was promoting the use of renewable energy sources to alleviate the problem in the long term. Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered agencies to step up efforts to tackle dust pollution.