A large shortage of hard drives is expected in the coming months due to the worst flood to hit Thailand in over fifty years. As you can see in these images, Western Digital has been hit hard by the flooding and the company has suspended production in Thailand. Obviously, it's going to take some time for Western Digital to recover from the flood damage to its factories. Other hard drive manufacturers (such as Seagate) will also be affected as component suppliers have experienced flooding. According to Western Digital CEO John Coyne, it will all add up to a significantly reduced supply of hard drives into 2012.
CRN reports that prices on hard drives are already rising in distribution channels and companies in the industry are watching inventory closely; some distributors may be stockpiling drives rather than selling them until the situation on the ground becomes clearer. Just how the shortage will ultimately affect consumers is also up in the air and will depend on how Western Digital and its distributors allocate existing inventory. PC makers are taking notice, however: Apple CEO Tim Cook is on the record as expecting "an overall industry shortage of disk drives" and a Dell spokesperson said the company is "working with our hard drive suppliers to address potential impact for the remainder of the year."
More photos of how the flooding hit Western Digital are below.