Volcanic ash affecting several areas in Malaysia

The Star 6 Feb 14;

PETALING JAYA: The Department of Environment (DOE) has recorded unhealthy and moderate API readings at several locations across Malaysia following a thin layer of ash cloud blowing from a Sumatran volcano located 271km west of Pulau Pangkor.

The highest API was recorded at SK Jalan Pegoh in Ipoh, Perak at 124 while Cheras, Kuala Lumpur reached 107, breaching an unhealthy level, followed by Nilai, Negeri Sembilan at 96, 95 in Banting, Selangor, 87 in Putrajaya and 86 in Seremban, according to its website.

Other API readings recorded were 83 in Malacca city, 72 in Sri Aman, Sarawak and 71 at both Bukit Rambai, Malacca and Jalan Tasek Ipoh, Perak as at 5pm yesterday.

API reading of below 50 is regarded as good, 50-100 (moderate), 100-200 (unhealthy), 200-300 (very unhealthy), and above 300 (hazardous).

The Meteorological Department in a statement on Monday had said that volcanic ash from Mount Sinabung, which erupted over the weekend and again on Monday, could be blown towards the southern states due to a northwesterly wind.

An advisory by the department had been sent to the aviation industry as the ash could affect flights and reduce visibility.

The peak of the volcano located in north Sumatra is 2,450m above sea level. AFP reported that 15 people were killed when Sinabung erupted over the weekend, shooting hot ash and rocks into the air.

Local authorities had evacuated about 30, 000 people.

Sinabung, which had been sporadically erupting since September, is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia.

The DOE also recorded moderate API readings in several states including Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Pahang, Perlis, Penang, Terengganu, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

The department said that there was no significant effect on air quality due to the ash cloud from the Sumatran volcano.

“Referring to areas which appeared to be affected by haze in Klang Valley, the department said it was due to dust and particles during hot weather. We also found no open burning that could cause haze in Klang Valley,” it said in a statement.

46 hotspots were also detected nationwide by the NOAA-18 Satellite and shown on the Meteorological Service Singapore’s website as at 4pm yesterday.

Malaysia: Current haze from local sources
New Straits Times 6 Feb 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The current hazy spells are caused by local elements and has nothing to do with the eruption of Mount Sinabung in Indonesia.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department Central Forecast Office director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said the cause of the haze included open-burning, emissions from vehicles and industrial gas release.

Debris from Mount Sinabung and the forest fire in the Riau province, he said, would not adversely affect Malaysia.

"The situation will be bad only at areas close to these disaster zones.

"The mild winds from Indonesia are not strong enough to bring massive amounts of ash here.

"We do not predict the haze would worsen, as it is currently the northeast monsoon season, where wind is coming from China."

Helmi said the wind from northwest could transport only small haze particles to Malaysia and that at the most, only the southern part of Peninsular Malaysia would be affected.

The air quality in Seremban, Negri Sembilan and Cheras, Kuala Lumpur at 5pm yesterday, reached "unhealthy" levels with the Air Pollutant Index (API) recording readings of above 100.

The Department of Environment (DoE) website listed the API readings for both areas at 103 and 108 respectively.

The air quality in 23 areas was recorded at a moderate level, with API readings of between 51 and 100.

The department said the haze was caused by suspended particles in the air because of the hot and dry weather as well as human activities.

It also said the stagnant state of the atmosphere and the topography of the Klang Valley caused the suspended particles in the air to be trapped and not dispersed quickly.

Following the current air condition, DoE has enabled the Open Burning Prevention Action Plan in all states.

Hot and dry weather expected throughout M'sia until Monday
Patrick Lee The Star 6 Feb 14;

PETALING JAYA: It is going to be hot and dry in most parts of Malaysia, with scorching afternoons to be followed by cold nights.

“It’s going to be dry for most of the regions. Some showers here and there, but mostly dry and hot weather,” said National Weather Forecast Centre director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah,

Muhammad said the dry spell was caused by regional wind patterns that were not conducive for rainy weather.

These, he said, were attributed to an inactive monsoon trough; a lack of a monsoon surge from China and the non-influence of easterly winds from the Western Pacific Ocean.

He added that rain clouds appearing north of Australia might have also been responsible for drawing moisture from our region, further drying the weather here.

Muhammad said lack of clouds in the region meant that cold nights and hot afternoons were going to be common.

As an example, he said rural areas such as Kuala Krai and Chuping may experience temperatures below 20°C.

This, he said, might also hold true for northern sides of Peninsula Malaysia and the eastern and western parts of Sabah.

“There will be some fluctuations in wind pattern, but we don’t expect much different weather for the next few days,” he said, adding that widespread rain was not expected.

According to a list by the Meteorological Department, it has not rained in more than 50 areas in all states in the peninsula for five or more consecutive days as of Feb 4.

They include Padang Besar, Langkawi, Seberang Prai Utara, Petaling, Klang, Kepong, Jasin, Cameron Highlands, Muar, Besut and Kota Baru.

According to the Meteorological Department’s website, Kuala Lumpur was expected to see a constant maximum temperature of 33°C from now until Feb 10, with no rain on the horizon.