La Nina Year Responsible for Thailand’s Deadly Cold Spell

People in Korat city gather around a fire on Jan. 13, 2021 during a nationwide cold spell.

BANGKOK — The usually sweltering, humid Bangkok has seen temperatures as low as 16C this week, while three people already died from the unusual cold weather in the countryside. 

The weather, which is forcing many Bangkokians to put on jackets when venturing outdoors and contemplate skipping morning showers, is expected to continue throughout the week, said meteorologist Seree Supratid, director of the Climate Change & Disaster Center.

“The cold weather’s been here since Monday, and will last through today. After that it will get slightly hotter before dipping down again around Sunday,” Seree said by phone Wednesday. 

Read: Thailand’s Cool Season Will Be Cooler This Year


Seree said that the cold spell was due to a high pressure system from China and La Nina, a natural phenomenon where sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific are lower than normal. It’s the opposite of El Nino, where the oceans are warmer for a part of the cycle. 

“It’s a La Nina year, so it’s just colder than normal,” Seree said. “But due to global warming, temperatures worldwide are higher anyway.” 

He says those with sensitive allergies to changing temperatures should take note and bundle up – but the cool, of course, won’t last long. Thailand usually enters the hot season in March, seeing sweltering temperatures around 40C. 

The Thai Meteorological Department said that the country would see cooler weather through Sunday, with lows of 7 to 12 C and highs of 26C Wednesday.


Temperatures will range from 12C to 31C Thursday to Saturday, and between 8C and 30C on Sunday and Monday. Northern mountaintops can be as freezing as 2C.

There have been at least three cases of people in the north and northeast dying from the cold. Samneang Nontapot, 65, was found dead Wednesday in Nong Khai province while keeping watch over his outdoor garden through the night. On Monday a man in Udon Thani who drank and slept outside was found dead. 

Bangkok will see temperatures between 18C and 34C until Sunday, and a dip after: next Monday and Tuesday will likely experience temperatures between lows of 16C and 31C.