Malaysia: 'Dry winds are coming'


DAMS TO BE HIT: Five months of vastly reduced rainfall likely from May

KUALA LUMPUR: MALAYSIANS may have to brace for another round of dry spell for a five-month period beginning from the middle of next month due to the southwest monsoon season.

Even though temperatures are forecast to reach a comfortable 32 to 33ยบ Celsius during this period, a lack of rain and higher evaporation rate will see drier weather affecting west coast states in the peninsula.

Meteorological Department (MMD) central forecast office director, Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said the weather change was due to dry winds coming from Indonesia.

This would create a high evaporation rate, which makes it easier for bodies of water to be absorbed into the atmosphere.

"The west coast states in the peninsula including Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor will be most affected by this dry season.

"There will be an average rainfall of 100 to 200 millimetres throughout the country during this five-month period. This is lower as compared with the 200 to 300 millimetres of rain the country has been experiencing since March 29," Helmi told the New Straits Times.

The previous dry spell had caused water levels at 20 dams and 21 rivers nationwide to dip between 0.3m and 1m since Feb 14 this year. This led to water rationing in Selangor and the Klang Valley that started on Feb 27.

Rationing had initially affected 71 areas in Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang, and was triggered by the closure of the Cheras Batu 11 and Bukit Tampoi water treatment plants due to ammonia pollution in Sungai Langat.

A total of 5.9 million people have been affected by the fourth phase of rationing that began recently, after water levels continued to decrease at seven dams that supply raw water to treatment plants in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Putrajaya

The dry spell had also affected water supply in certain areas in Johor and Negri Sembilan.

Malaysian Nature Society's Johor chairman Vincent Chow said uncertain global weather patterns would likely have an effect on local weather patterns and this may be evident during the five-month dry season.

"The global climate change is quite cuckoo. This can have an effect on the weather in Malaysia, and with the southwest monsoon, the high evaporation could affect water levels at dams. This is something that needs to be looked at seriously."

Chow said temperatures during the southwest monsoon would depend on the level of pollution and other environmental factors. He said the evaporation rate would depend mostly on the movement of air and wind during the southwest monsoon.

Meanwhile, Meteorological Department's commercial and corporate services director Dr Mohd Hisham Mohd Anip said cloud seeding operation continued yesterday at several locations in Selangor in an effort to increase water levels at dams.

"We are still in the inter-monsoon season and it is expected to last until early May in the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia."

Selangor Water Management Authority information officer (corporate unit) Ishak Kamaruzaman said the water level at the Sungai Selangor dam stood at 37.73 per cent (190.45m) yesterday.

"The dam supplies water to 60 per cent of Selangor residents and needs to reach 55 per cent of its capacity before we can end the water rationing exercise.

"However, the low quantity of rain at water catchment areas has not raised water levels at dams across the state."

Yesterday, water levels at the Klang Gates dam stood at 89.92m, Langat dam (211.70m), Sungai Tinggi dam (52.97m), Batu dam (99.18m), Sungai Labu dam (38.90m) and Semenyih dam (106.11m).