KUCHING: The haze has returned to Sarawak, with Sri Aman town, about 160km from the state capital, breaching the unhealthy air quality index pre-dawn.
With an Air Pollution Index (API) reading of 112, Sri Aman had the worst haze in the country Tuesday morning. It crossed into the unhealthy range at 4am.
In Kuching, the API was 80, rising from just 44 a day earlier. Sibu had an API of 73 while Miri was at 35.
The blue skies that southern Sarawakians enjoyed beginning last Friday was short-lived. A change of wind direction Monday evening is believed to have brought the haze back.
Visibility in Kuching was down to a mere 800m.
The Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre is reporting "widespread smoke haze" across Kalimantan as the dry weather conditions prevailed. In Sumatra, it added, shower activities in recent days has helped to reduced the extent of haze area.
Latest images from the satellite NOAA-18, which captures open burning larger than 10-sq-m, showed 475 hotspots on Borneo on Monday.
According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department's seasonal report, there could be 20% to 40% less rain this month in Sarawak compared to the long term average.
"The moderate El-Nin~o currently experienced is expected to intensify in Sept and it may continue until early 2016 with a probability of over 90%," said its weather outlook until Feb 2016.