Set for another hazy spell

Set for another hazy spell

18 July 2006

published by The Star (M’sia)

Malaysians are due for another hazy spell unless the Indonesian authorities
tackle the hundreds of forest fires raging in various parts of Sumatra and
Kalimantan. Although showers and thunderstorms are expected over several
places along the west coast states of the peninsula and Sarawak, they will
offer only temporary relief as the hot and dry weather is not expected to
end until September.

Meteorological Services Department director-general Yap Kok Seng said if
the situation in Indonesia did not improve, Malaysians would face a longer
period of haze due to the prolonged dry and hot weather.

“However, it may not be as bad as last year because we have started taking
steps and our officials are talking with our Indonesian counterparts on
ways to handle the problem,” he told reporters at his office yesterday. “We
are also prepared to carry out cloud seeding. This will be done when the
Air Pollution Index (API) in a certain area reaches the unhealthy level of
between 100 and 150 for a prolonged period of 72 hours or more.”

For the first time since the return of haze, three of the Department of
Environment’s 51 monitoring stations – in Seberang Jaya in Penang, Port
Klang and Seri Manjung in Perak – recorded readings showing an unhealthy
API mark. Thirty other monitoring stations recorded moderate API levels.

Yap said visibility in several parts of the country, including Prai,
Butterworth, Chuping, Alor Star, Sitiawan and the Cameron Highlands had
deteriorated to between 2km and 6km, while in Bayan Lepas and Ipoh, it was
about 8km.

The hotspots detected by satellites in both Sumatra and Kalimantan, he
said, had been increasing over the past six days. The latest satellite
images showed about 150 hotspots in Sumatra and more than 130 in
Kalimantan. He said Sabah and Sarawak could experience outbreaks of fire.

In Penang, Meteorological Services Department (Bayan Lepas) director S.
Santhira Segaran said the situation in the state should improve over the
next few days with the south-west monsoon winds expected to weaken and to
blow in a westerly direction, affecting visibility in Perak and Selangor.

“We may experience some localised showers within the next few days but it
won’t clear the haze. The situation will only improve if the number of
hotspots can be controlled,” he said.


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