A huge recipe for disaster

Villagers houses destroyed by the flash flood beside the Sungai Lata Celak at Kampung Iboi in Kupang, Baling. ( July 6,2022 ). -ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Even before Malaysians can recover from the great floods of last December and March, Baling in Kedah has been hit again.

Experts say there may be no respite soon. They predict that the La Nina phenomenon may carry on until the end of the year.

The La Nina phenomenon, they say, will bring about greater rainfall. Coupled with the northeast monsoon from November to March, Malaysians may face a double whammy.

The La Nina phenomenon was initially supposed to have ended by now.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia climatologist Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang said data from the Climate Prediction Centre of the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecast a 50% chance that the La Nina phenomenon would remain until the year’s end.

“This could worsen the effects of the northeast monsoon that is experienced in Malaysia from November or December until March next year.

“The La Nina condition in the Pacific Ocean will also result in stronger easterly winds blowing into the South-East Asia region, bringing more moisture and intense rainfall,” he said.

He expects possibly more rain and floods in many parts of Malaysia later in the year.

“The east coast states like Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor will usually see the most downpour during the northeast monsoon.

“All states must be prepared,” he said, referring to the floods that ravaged Selangor and Kuala Lumpur in December last year.

He added that forecast outlooks issued by the APEC Climate Centre (APCC) in South Korea, however, forecast drier than usual weather conditions for Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak from October to December.

Prof Fredolin, who is also UKM chair of the Department of Earth Sciences and Environment, also noted that the La Nina was unusual given that it began in the middle of last year and should have ended by now.

“A typical El Nino or La Nina phenomenon occurs around June and will continue to evolve until the end of the following year.

“By April or May of the following year, conditions should return to normal but this is not the case this time,” he said.

Climate change, he said, might be among the reasons for the change.

Universiti Malaya’s Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah said the current La Nina phenomenon had initially been forecast to weaken in August by the NOAA’s Climate Prediction Centre.

“In their latest advisory, however, the forecast stated it would persist until the end of the year, which creates the possibility of it interacting with the northeast monsoon,” he said.

“This increases the possibility of more rain and stronger winds. It may also result in floods becoming more devastating as seen in 2014 and 2021, with increased chances of landslides,” he said.

Extreme weather and lightning expert Hartono Zainal Abidin said La Nina had reportedly occurred twice in the South-East Asia region back in 2001.

“This resulted in Mini-Typhoon Vamei, which was the closest of its kind to develop near the Equator. It made landfall in Desaru, Johor,” he said.

He noted that both the east and west coast states in Peninsular Malaysia should be on guard during the period when La Nina interacts with the northeast monsoon sometime in November.

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