Malaysia: Sporadic flooding so far this year

RAZAK AHMAD The Star 27 Dec 15;

KUALA LUMPUR: Exactly a year ago, the number of flood evacuees hit the 100,000 mark in one of the country’s worst monsoon floods on record.

This year’s north-east monsoon season is, however, turning out to be much milder, with only sporadic flooding incidents recorded so far.

The presence of a strong, dry and hot El Nino weather phenomenon that is bringing less rainfall is one reason.

“Our forecasts had predicted that the extent of possible floods during the north-east monsoon this year would not be as severe as last year.

“The occurrence of El Nino this year is one reason why,” said Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment (MetMalaysia) deputy director-general Alui Bahari.

El Nino is an irregular weather phenomenon that causes sea temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean to rise, leading to unusually heavy rains in some parts of the world and drought elsewhere.

The last extreme El Nino took place in 1997-98. This had caused the hottest year on record as well as floods, cyclones, droughts and huge damage to world food production.

This year’s El Nino started in March and is expected to last for 12 months.

MetMalaysia, in a Dec 15 El Nino status update, categorised the phenomenon as “strong”.

It is expected to bring hotter and drier weather in the coming months. Temperatures in parts of the country may go up by between 0.5°C and 2°C. Less rainfall is also expected, especially in Sabah and north Sarawak.

The department, in its November update, said several incidents of heavy rain that can cause floods in the east coast peninsula states are still expected until the end of this month.

This is due to the current north-east monsoon which will only end in March.

The monsoon may also cause floods in west Sarawak in the next two months.

Coastal areas in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Johor and Negri Sembilan, however, received less-than-average rainfall last month. Kedah, Perlis, Penang and northern Perak are set to receive less-than-average rainfall next month.

Meanwhile, February next year is predicted to be slightly drier throughout the country.

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