PETALING JAYA: Malaysians burned under the merciless El Nino heatwave in the first half of the year, but they might be wading through La Nina’s heavy rain and floods in the second half.
As the Philippines and Taiwan floundered under the onslaught of Super Typhoon Nepartak, international weather forecasters were predicting a possible deluge in Malaysia in the next few months.
The La Nina is likely to be here at the tail end of the strongest El Nino in 20 years, which brought scorching heat and dry days. The La Nina is predicted to bring heavy rain.
In the wee hours of yesterday morning, there were already thunderstorms, heavy rain and strong winds over parts of Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya in Selangor and in Muar, Kluang, Kota Tinggi and Johor Bahru in Johor.
The latest data from a US climate agency revealed that there was a 75% chance that La Nina will happen sometime from October to December.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department (Met Malaysia) had also previously told Bernama that it would monitor developments and will be on high alert during the last three months of the year.
Its deputy director for operations Alui Bahari was quoted as saying that based on the weather pattern, La Nina’s effects could be worst at the year’s end, which is also when the monsoon peaks.
“If there is no La Nina effect, the weather will return to normal with the usual wet spell in the East Coast during December, where the rains average between 600mm and 700mm,” he said.
El Nino, which means “the boy” in Spanish, is an irregular weather phenomenon that causes sea temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean to rise while La Nina, “the girl” leads to a cooling of seawater.
La Nina often takes place after El Nino ends.
The last El Nino cycle between March 2015 and May 2016 was the most powerful on record, heating the world’s oceans to never-before-seen levels, drying up dams and withering crops.
According to climate expert Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah, the east coast states, along with Sabah and Sarawak, are likely to bear the worst brunt of La Nina’s effects.
“The floods are dependent on the location and the duration of the rainfall.
“If the heavy rainfall is along coastal areas, a devastating deluge like the one that occurred in 2014 may be possible.
“However, if the heavy rainfall happens in the interior for, say four to five days, like how it happened in 2014, that could cause the river levels to rise up to 10m and cause massive flooding,” he was quoted as saying by Bernama.
Floods submerged six states in the peninsula in the last weeks of 2014, with Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang being the worst-hit. Nearly 100,000 people had to be evacuated during the floods.
Right now, however, haze is also a concern as areas in Sumatra and Kalimantan begin open burning.
Dr Azizan, however, was reported as saying the haze would not be as bad as last year because of La Nina’s predicted stronger effects, which will bring more rain for this month and the next.
“Places in the east coast like Kemaman, Kota Baru, and the south of Sarawak, especially Kuching will have to be wary of the haze from July to August, and later the possibility of a deluge,” he said.
Two days ago, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar allayed fears of a severe transboundary haze happening this year.
He said Indonesia seemed to be doing its part to honour its commitment to contain haze, and so far there had been only a few hotspots in Sumatra and two in Kalimantan.
“Whatever it is, Indonesia is still going to be answerable to its neighbours based on the Asean Agree-ment on Transboundary Haze Pollution 2002,” he said.
Indonesian law allows 40% of smallholders cultivating oil palm and trees for pulp and paper to conduct open burning on their farmlands of 2ha each.
However, Indonesia is facing a lot of pressure from Malaysia and Singapore, which suffers the most from the phenomenon.