NECK DEEP IN BANGKOK

The price of hard disks has skyrocketed after images of Bangkok was neck deep in water hit the media. The mess from the flooding caused by typhoon Nock-Ten (Laos) which dumped more water than in the previous 50 years.

The WDC factory in Bangkok was one of hundreds of tech companies whose operations were disrupted by the floods. Workers used boats to move equipment and other resources out of the flooded areas.

Approximately 60 percent of Western Digital’s hard drive manufacturing takes place in Thailand, and the company expects production to improve by March 2012. Many other tech companies also work in the areas.

The media is “flooded” with photos showing the extent of the water.

Sony also has a factory that makes several products which was well under water. While the price of hard disks is more of interest to PC gaming, clearly the water did a major amount of damage.

It’s likely that the whole PC industry will be adversely affected for the next 3-6 months as the mess is cleaned up and production resumes.

Fear of a laptop shortage sent prices spiralling, The hard drives that are made by Western Digital, Toshiba, and other smaller players in the areas impacted by the flooding are mainly designed for notebook and netbook personal computers.

The slump in laptop sales should allow inventory to be stable while production recovers. Once the water recedes it will be weeks to clean up the mess. Hard disks are made in a clean room so they have to be cleaned up carefully adding to the costs.

Thailand serves as an electronics manufacturing hub for hundreds of companies, particularly for those based in Japan. Japan has long invested in the region mostly as there is lots of room for factories.

Tropical storm Nock-Ten  made landfall on August 1, 2011. The storm dumped a vast amount of water throughout the entire region. Flooding was seen in many places in addition to Bangkok. Reports of hundreds of deaths are being blamed in the storm.

Usually the water recedes in the region after 30 days into the monsoon as the rivers sweep silt out and the channels deepen from the flow of water. The huge volume of water with Nock-Ten took more than 60 days to flow back into the ocean.

Farms were also widely flooded but rice is tolerant of high waters. The region gets extensive rain during the monsoon but the intensity of the rain was more than most had seen in many years. Ride paddies are well designed for flood control.

As the heavy rains flooded the area, a lot of people had to flee to higher ground. Generally more than 30 centimeters of water was flooding farms and some flood basins overflowing their banks.

According to China’s Xinhuanet news almost 28,000 people were evacuated from Hainan province before Tropical Storm Nock-Ten made landfall over the southern part of the island on the afternoon (local time/China) of July 28. Gusty winds and heavy rains accompanied the landfall with winds of 62 mph (100 kmh) in Longlou Township.

Several storms and typhoons dumped such an extraordinary amount of water this summer.  The infrared map shows the extent of the rain.  Nock-Ten intensified to category 1 which how bad the rain became.