Mercury stays high in the north


PETALING JAYA: Temperatures in the north of the peninsula are still soaring with a Level 2 heatwave alert issued for Pokok Sena in Kedah for a third consecutive day, and 10 other places under Level 1 alert.

The Level 1 alert was sounded for all of Perlis, Kubang Pasu, Padang Terap, Pulau Langkawi, Kota Setar and Pendang in Kedah, Seberang Perai Utara, Timur Laut and Seberang Perai Tengah in Penang and Kuala Kangsar in Perak.

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Under Level 2, daily temperatures can hover between 37ºC and 40ºC for at least three days in a row. Under Level 1, temperatures range between 35ºC and 37ºC.

However, the heat has fallen somewhat in the central region, with the temperature falling below 35ºC yesterday, after being at Level 1 on Thursday.

Kuala Lumpur, Petaling and Sepang districts are out of the Level 1 alert as are Limbang in Sarawak and Beaufort in Sabah.

However, MetMalaysia director-general Muhammad Helmi Abdullah called on the people to be wary of the heat and avoid staying outdoors for long periods.

“The current heatwave is a recurring phenomenon that happens every year from February to May.

“Daily maximum temperatures can exceed 35ºC in the early evening,” he said.

Muhammad Helmi noted that the highest temperature recorded so far was 37.9ºC in Chuping, Perlis on Feb 22.

Chuping was also where the country’s highest ever temperature reading of 40.1ºC was recorded on April 9, 1998, which was also an El Nino year.

Muhammad Helmi said the strong El Nino phenomenon this year would bring higher maximum temperatures in most places. The dry and hot spell is expected to last until early April.

National Antarctica Research Centre climatologist Prof Datuk Dr Azizan Abu Samah said, “Last year, it was the La Nina phenomenon and there were more clouds. This year, it is the El Nino and we can expect the weather to be drier. This excessive heat will only be in the north of the peninsula and some areas in Sabah.

“I was in Jitra recently and there was no rain for more than a week. Some padi fields are already dried up.

“However, as it is the harvesting season, having no rain now is not a problem,” said Azizan.

“What is worrying is the problem of water supply during the coming off-season irrigation when farmers start preparing the lands for replanting.

“This is where we are hoping that in April, the inter-monsoon might come with heavy rain.

“The west of the peninsula is different from the east coast as the rains come once in April and then in October.

“We hope April’s inter-monsoon rain will be heavier than normal and bring some respite to the northern states,” added Azizan.

Last year, Malaysia recorded the highest temperature of 38.4ºC in Negri Sembilan in April.

On April 25 last year, an 11-year-old boy and a 19-month-old toddler died of heatstroke and severe dehydration in Kelantan. At least five other people also required medical treatment.

In May last year, the Education Ministry suspended all outdoor activities in schools and allowed students to wear sports clothing instead of school uniforms.

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