A man cycles past high-rise buildings amid smoggy conditions due to air pollution in Bangkok on January 16, 2021. (AFP / Jack Taylor)

Thailand’s weather agency warns of old hoax about extreme weather circulating on social media

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

A message warning of “extreme weather change” that was purportedly issued by the Meteorological Department of Thailand has been shared in multiple posts on Facebook and Line. The claim is false; the Meteorological Department denied ever issuing the message and the agency’s forecast did not warn of extreme weather when the posts circulated. 

The claim was posted on Facebook here on January 14, 2021.

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on January 18, 2021

The Thai text reads in English as:

"Breaking news from the Meteorological Department

“There has never been a forecast like this before in the past 5 years

“** A cold wave will cover all regions in Thailand from 24:00 tonight onwards
“The North and Esan will face a [temperature] drop of 10-12 degrees celsius
“Bangkok 8-10 degrees celsius
“The most in 14 years.

“12 hours from now rain will hit the north and Esan, followed by strong winds and the temperature will fully drop.

“Prepare yourselves for extreme weather change
“Please share so we can prepare in time."

The message also circulated on messaging app Line. 

Screenshot of the misleading claim on Line, taken on January 18, 2021

The same claim was previously shared on the platform in 2020, 2019 and 2018.

The claim, however, is false.

The Meteorological Department of Thailand denied it ever issued the message, saying in a Facebook post on January 15, 2021, that the notice was false.

“The Meteorological Department would like to clarify that this message is false, and is a message that has been shared previously on social media. The purported message did not originate from the Meteorological Department,” it said.

“Currently there are no warnings of extreme weather, and [the message] does not state a clear date and time.”

Screenshot of Facebook post by the Meteorological Department of Thailand, taken on January 18, 2021

On January 15, 2021, a day after the false message was published on Facebook, the Meteorological Department also published an infographic forecasting mild weather that week.

The Meteorological Department also published a daily weather forecast on January 15, 2021, in a video here. The daily forecast made no mentions of extreme weather change.

Thai fact-checking service Sure And Share Center also debunked the claim here in 2018.