PETALING JAYA: Weather experts have cautioned about a wet year-end with more rainfall brought about by the ongoing La Nina phenomenon. Compared with two decades ago, they said the Malaysian climate and weather had become more variable.
Given the effect of La Nina, climatologist Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang said the risk of widespread flooding, especially on the east coast of peninsula Malaysia, was very high.
According to data from the Climate Prediction Centre of the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a 50% chance that La Nina will remain until the year-end.
ALSO READ: Facing floods full on
“This could worsen the effects of the impending north-east monsoon in Malaysia from November until March next year,” said Prof Fredolin.
He said the effects of global climate change were more apparent compared to two decades ago.
“No doubt the weather and climate, especially the extremes, have become more variable in the last couple of decades.“Consistent with the global mean temperature, the temperature in Malaysia has also been rising steadily,” he said.
Climate expert Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah from Universiti Malaya agreed, saying that La Nina, coupled with the Indian Ocean Dipole event that caused the weather to be ripe for rain, could bring higher than average rainfall to Malaysia during the north-east monsoon season, expected to begin in November and strengthen in December.“Certainly in November, especially in the east coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu, there will be more rain than usual, depending on how bad the weather is,” he said.
He also pointed out that it was “very difficult” to pinpoint which week or day bad weather was expected to hit as any forecast model could only predict up to seven days at about 50% accuracy.
The head of the Earth Sciences and Environment Department from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said the increase in global mean temperature led to more moisture in the air.
“Warmer air can hold more moisture, and this additional moisture content causes more intense heavy precipitation, resulting in more frequent and strong flooding events,” he added.
Fire and Rescue Services Department director-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Hamdan Wahid said some 14,800 personnel had been directed to be on high alert amid La Nina and the impending north-east monsoon season.
“This figure does not include the 13,500 volunteer firefighters nationwide,” he said, adding that a total of 1,800 land, marine and air assets were also on standby to be deployed to assist the frontline.
“For the peninsula, three Regional Front Bases (Pengkalan Hadapan Wilayah) can be activated any time in Penang for the northern region, Ayer Hitam in Johor for the southern region and Wakaf Tapai in Terengganu for the east coast region.“Based on information from the Drainage and Irrigation Department, 5,496 areas across Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak have been identified as high-risk,” he said.
Mohammad Hamdan said the department would continue to make thorough plans for other states owing to the recent weather trend and flash floods.
He said all strategic, operational and tactical planning had started since April with frequent monitoring and patrolling in hotspot areas.
“This includes the monitoring of rainfall, water levels, monsoon flows and sea tides together with information from the relevant agencies.
“For the remote areas, the Air Division and states are using drones to monitor.
“Each state has set up an operation room and has activated its incident command system,” he added.
Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) said the preparations for this year’s floods would be done in accordance with the meeting held among the agencies.
“Our readiness to manage floods is just like what the Prime Minister announced last week after the National Disaster Management Committee meeting.
“The operation will be like usual. If there is to be voting during the monsoon season, we will follow Election Commission (EC) instructions,” said Nadma.
“If we are to have an election during monsoon, EC will call relevant ministries and agencies for meetings to discuss in detail how to go about it,” said the department.
On Sept 12, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob instructed the disaster management committees at the district level to be immediately activated to face the north-east monsoon and floods.
In a statement, the Prime Minister said this was following MetMalaysia’s forecast that the north-east monsoon would be from November to March 2023.