After falling for the most part over the last decade, it appears that Mother Nature is interrupting PC users ability to find cheap data storage.  The recent flooding in Thailand is expected to rise prices of computer hard drives in 2012.

Flooding in Thailand, where one-third of the world's hard drives are produced, has had a domino effect on shipments of hard disk drives.

Seagate revised its financial outlook in November, saying: "The company continues to believe that, due to the industry impacts caused by the extensive flooding in Thailand, hard disk drive supply will be significantly constrained for several quarters. For the December 2011 quarter, the company believes the industry will ship between 110-120 million units.

But, don't despair as the shoirtage - and the resulting price increases - appear to be only temporary.

Every vendor acknowledges that the price hikes will be temporary.

Seagate and Western Digital responded to the flooding, not by increasing the cost of their own hard drives, but by shortening the warranty period that protects the drives. Seagate is changing its warranty policy from five years to either three, two, or one years, depending on the drive type.

Western Digital is dropping its warranty period for its Blue drives to two years, while maintaining the same five-year warranty for its Black drives.

IDC predicts that storage manufacturers such as IBM and NetApp will look to the SSD vendors to backfill hard drive supply gaps. SSD manufacturers LSI, Marvell Technology Group, Micron Technology, and SanDisk have all issued statements on their views of increased business.