PETALING JAYA: The National Security Council has recalled a Hercules plane from the MH370 search and rescue operations for cloud seeding duty which is expected to resume today.
This comes in the wake of mounting public alarm over depleting water levels in dams as well as the current dry weather and open burning cases that are contributing to the choking haze over parts of the country.
The Meteorological Department’s atmospheric science and cloud seeding division director Azhar Ishak said the operation would kick off at around 2.30pm today, adding that it was targeted at clouds over water catchment areas and places with severe haze.
The operation, he said, would be carried out with the cooperation of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, with the C-130 flown by Squadron 20 from its Subang base.
“We have identified favourable cloud conditions. We hope to induce rainfall over water catchment areas in Selangor as well as areas such as Port Klang, Putrajaya and Sepang which are experiencing severe haze,” he told The Star here yesterday.
He had earlier said that the cloud seeding exercise had to be postponed as the RMAF’s C-130s were being deployed to help in the search and rescue of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane.
Should conditions remain good today, Azhar said the cloud seeding operation might also be carried out in Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.
He said from Tuesday or Wednesday onwards, the department would conduct cloud seeding using a private aircraft that it had contracted.
The aircraft, a six-seater Cessna, had been modified for the operation and was currently undergoing repairs, said Azhar.
“We will continue cloud seeding until heavy rainfall starts in the inter-monsoon period,” he said. “This is expected to begin from the end of March to May.”
Azhar said cloud seeding would be carried out in as many states as the department could reach, especially over areas affected by severe haze.
His officers, he added, would constantly refer to the department’s satellite images to locate suitable rain clouds for the operation. “We will be doing wet seeding with the C-130 and dry seeding with the Cessna,” he said.
Wet seeding involves spraying a salt solution at the base of identified clouds while dry seeding is done using hygroscopic flares, fixed onto an aircraft’s wings, that will disperse salt particles into the clouds when lit.
Cloud seeding is expected to be able to induce rainfall within 15 minutes to half an hour after the exercise.