PETALING JAYA: “Hot” is the word on everyone’s mind right now, with heatwaves sweeping across Europe and parts of the United States.
Temperatures in Britain were expected to climb as high as 32°C in the coming week while the mercury in parts of Italy had soared well above 40°C, news reports said yesterday.
Although Malaysia is not directly affected by the heatwave in the northern hemisphere of the globe, it was not spared the effects of the annual south-west monsoon dry spell, said MetMalaysia (the Meteorological Department of Malaysia.
“However, the hot weather here now is not as bad as the El-Nino of 2014 and 2015,” MetMalaysia director-general Alui Bahari said yesterday.
The south-west monsoon began on May 17 and is expected to last until September.
Alui said the highest temperature recorded so far this year was not even during this dry period.
“It was 36.9°C in Chuping, Perlis, on March 18. The highest recorded temperature in Malaysian history is 40.1°C, also in the same area,” he said.
Climatology and Oceanography specialist from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang explained that the heatwave in Europe and the United States was “normal” for this time of year.
“However, the weather system in Malaysia is different from that in America and Europe. Our dry spell is connected to the monsoon season,” he said.
Also, while Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak are expected to have less rain than usual during this period, Sabah is expected to see more rainfall.
Dr Tangang also warned of a possible increase in the risk of forest fires. “We have had reports of fires in Sumatra.
“This is a rather typical dry and hot season although this year, the south-west monsoon season is wetter than the last one,” he added.
It was reported earlier that there were 170 hotspots across Indonesia in mid-July, mostly in Aceh, East Nusa Tenggara and West Kalimantan.
According to the latest map of MetMalaysia’s “Fire Danger Rating System” under the “Fine Fuel Moisture Code” – southern Suma-tra, West Kalimantan and large parts of Sabah and Sarawak were in red.
Red represents “extreme” – the highest in the scale – which indicates ease of flammability of grasslands and bushes.
But Alui said the rainfall in August was expected to exceed that of July, helping to dampen the risk of fires.
“The situation is not worrying. Even so, there should be enforcement to prevent open burning,” he said.
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