Malaysia: Heatwave to abate by April

The Star 16 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The almost unbearably hot and dry weather brought by El Nino is expected to abate by April.

Malaysian Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the succeeding inter-monsoon season would restore humidity and lower the temperature.

El Nino, which swept over the country in December and January is a phenomenon caused by rising temperature over the east and central surface of the Pacific Ocean in the equatorial region, which occurs every two to seven years, he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), climatology and oceanography expert Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang said the phenomenon is in the descending phase.

"We have an extraordinarily hot spell during this phase particularly this month," he said.

Fredolin who has been studying the phenomenon for 20 years said northern peninsula, northern Sarawak, Sabah and Southern Philippines would experience extremely dry and hot weather during the phase.

Meanwhile, the Science Technology and Innovation Ministry in a statement said the temperature could likely reach 40 degrees Celsius.

It cited Chuping district in Perlis, which recorded a reading of 39 degrees Celsius, two days ago.

However, the highest reading in the country's history was 40.1 degrees Celsius, recorded also in Chuping in 1998.

The statement also said the sweltering weather could trigger a heat wave which poses a health risk such as heatstroke.

Meanwhile, the water level at all main dams in the country is still holding out.

National Water Services Commission (SPAN) chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Ridhuan Ismail said current water production and consumption was not yet at a worrying stage.

"Currently, we have no plans to carry out water rationing," he told Bernama when contacted.

In Shah Alam, the water level at the seven dams in Selangor remained, as of yesterday, at more than 70 per cent.

Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (LUAS) in its portal stated that the water level at Langat dam stood at 70.16 per cent while that at Sungai Selangor dam, 86.51 per cent.

The water level at Semenyih dam was at 85.32 per cent while Klang Gates dam, 80.98 per cent; Sungai Tinggi dam (88.21 per cent); and Tasik Subang dam (97.51 per cent).

The water-level reading on March 11 showed the Sungai Labu off river storage (ORS) to be at 57.66 per cent, and Batu dam, at 83.36 per cent.

In Johor Baru, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry exco chairman Ismail Mohamed said the state government had implemented various measures to alleviate the situation.

"Among others, we acquired 'deep wells' costing RM1mil from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry for 66 farmers in Johor's largest vegetable cultivation at Sengkang Batu 18, Bukit Gambir," he said.

He said the farmers were also encouraged to use fertigation and hydroponics to ensure that they could at least meet the minimum demand during the dry spell while increasing production.

In Kuala Terengganu, an academician said the drastic sea temperature rise due to El Nino would impact adversely not only on coral reefs but also marine life and biodiversity.

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Nor Aieni Mokhtar said fish for instance, need the coral reefs to thrive and if the latter die or coral bleaching occurs, the marine resources would deplete.

"On the other hand, El-Nino provides an advantage to marine life and biodiversity researchers and scientists.

"It allows them to find out how the coral reefs or marine life could still survive and sustain despite the threats," she told reporters after launching a Natural Resource Product Conference 2016, here Tuesday. - Bernama

Inter-monsoon season in April will bring reprieve
The Star 17 Mar 16;

KUALA LUMPUR: The almost unbearably hot and dry weather caused by El Nino is expected to ease by April.

Meteorological Department director-general Datuk Che Gayah Ismail said the inter-monsoon season then would restore humidity and lower temperatures.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) climatology and oceanography expert Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang said the El Nino phenomenon, which swept over the country in December and January, was in the descending phase.

“We have had an extraordinarily hot spell during this phase, particularly this month,” he said.

Fredolin, who has been studying the phenomenon for 20 years, said the north of the peninsula, northern Sarawak, Sabah and southern Philippines had been experiencing extremely dry and hot weather.

In a statement, the Science Tech­no­logy and Innovation Ministry said temperatures in the country could reach 40°C, pointing out that Chuping in Perlis hit 39°C two days ago.

The highest reading in the country’s history was 40.1°C, also in Chuping in 1998, during the last severe El Nino.

The sweltering weather, said the ministry, could trigger a heatwave, posing health risks such as heatstrokes.

Despite the heat, water levels at all main dams in the country are still holding out.

National Water Services Com­mission (SPAN) chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Ridhuan Ismail said current water production and consumption was not at a worrying stage.

Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said there was sufficient water supply at dams nationwide. The dams are being monitored daily.

“The sensitive areas are usually Johor, Selangor, Kedah and Penang,” he added.

Lembaga Urus Air Selangor (Luas) said the water level at the seven dams in Selangor remained at more than 70%.

The water in Penang’s dams are also above 70% with enough supply until the rains next month.

In Johor Baru, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry exco chairman Ismail Mohamed said the state government had implemented various measures to alleviate the situation.

“We have acquired ‘deep wells’ from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry for 66 farmers in Johor’s largest vegetable cultivation at Sengkang Batu 18, Bukit Gambir,” he said.

Farmers, he said, were also encouraged to use fertigation and hydroponics to ensure that they could at least meet the minimum demand during the dry spell.

In Kuala Terengganu, an academician said the drastic sea temperature rise would adversely impact not only coral reefs but marine life and biodiversity as well.


Fields and canals drying up
The Star 17 Mar 16;

GEORGE TOWN: The scorching weather is drying up irrigation canals and turning fields brown in the north of the peninsula, where the current hot spell is at its worst.

In Balik Pulau, Muhammad Ihsan Tarmizi, 14, who used to catch fish at a canal near his village, Kampung Perlis, found the waterway dry and its bed parched.

“I thought I could fish there since I’m back home from boarding school for the school holidays,” said the boy, adding that his family liked the freshwater fish.

In the city, the Esplanade field has turned brown due to the prolonged hot and dry weather.

Penang Water Supply Corporation Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa said there had been very little rainfall over the past 30 days with daytime temperatures soaring to 35°C.

Urging Penangites to conserve water, Jaseni said there was no immediate danger of a water crisis or a need for rationing. However, the public, he said, should avoid using a hose to wash their vehicles and reduce the frequency of car washes.

“Hosing wastes water. Avoid using a hose at all costs,” said Jaseni.


No plans to extend school hols because of heatwave
The Star 17 Mar 16;

KULIM: The Education Ministry does not find it necessary to extend the school holidays for now in view of the hot weather, said Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon.

“We do not wish to interrupt the teaching and learning just because of the hot weather but we will moni­tor the situation closely.

“We have empowered principals and headmasters to stop outdoor activities to prevent students from being exposed to the sun,” he said.

It is the holidays now and schools will restart on March 20 in Kedah, Johor, Kelantan and Terengganu and March 21 in other states.

Meteorologists have warned that it is going to get hotter by March 20 and the pummelling heat can last until the first week of April.

Meanwhile, Chong gave the thumbs up to the school board of SJK(C) Khai Min in Karangan here for taking the initiative to go high-tech.

It may not be a big school but all 57 students in the school’s six classrooms are going through their lessons electronically from interactive slides and notes shown on projector screens.

Chong, who launched the multimedia classrooms, praised the school's initiative to keep up with the times.

“The school board sourced for the system and installed it themselves, saving a lot on cost,” he said at the school yesterday.

The school’s headmistress Yap Soon Chin said the system comprised seven sets of projectors, laptops and screens, installed at a cost of about RM50,000.

Year Six pupil Julita Ayuni Zakaria, 12, said the system made learning more interesting and effective.

“There is a lot of content and some are multimedia which make the subjects easier to understand.

“It is definitely better than reading textbooks,” she said.

Chong, who is MCA Youth chief, earlier opened the basketball court and witnessed the swearing-in of the board of directors of SJK(C) Chio Min A and SJK(C) Chio Min B.

He was accompanied by Kulim assemblyman Chua Tiong Gee and Padang Serai MCA division chairman Dr Chin Tung Leong.


Education Ministry awaiting guidelines on school closure in the event of extreme hot weather
AZURA ABAS New Straits Times 17 Mar 16;

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry is waiting for the guidelines that will give a clear indication when schools would be advised to close during the extreme hot and dry weather.

Its deputy minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said it was just a matter of getting the guidelines from the experts. "We will alert schools immediately once we get the guidelines.

Schools in some states reopen this Sunday.

"Since we are dealing with children, we are very worried about the extreme heat, especially during the equinox phenomenon (starting this Sunday)," he told reporters at his office here today.

Until such guidelines are available, schools have been notified to take measures to reduce children's exposure to heat including limiting outdoor activities and by conducting noon assembly indoors, Kamalanathan said.

He was upbeat to learn that the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry had such guidelines that were awaiting Cabinet approval.

On the Pupils' Own Language (POL) classes, Kamalanathan said schools that have yet to conduct such classes would start immediately.

"Due to some financial issues, some schools cannot have the POL classes.

Schools that have such issues should get in touch with the ministry to resolve the matter," he said, adding that the ministry had neither stopped nor abolished POL classes as claimed via social media.

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