Tuesday July 3, 2012
Expect an exceptionally dry month, says weatherman
KUCHING: This month will definitely be drier than last month.
“The lucky weather break that we had since last week is coming to an end. The dry weather is back, and July is traditionally the driest month every year.
“We are forecasting this month to be exceptionally dry,” Malaysian Meteorological Department (MET)’s Sarawak director Wong Teck Kiong told The Star yesterday.
He said forecasters were expecting another tropical storm forming in the Pacific Ocean near the Philippines.
“The formation of that storm will draw away moisture from our region. As to the degree of the dryness, it’s a little hard to say right now. That will depend on the degree of the intensity and the direction of the storm.”
Wong said MET was forecasting this month to be between 20% and 40% drier than average. In the last 30 days, he said, two tropical storms have occurred in Japan and China, which resulted in the lack of rain here.
“July typically includes 15 days of rain. It could rain on half the number of days this month, but these could be isolated showers. We are not sure whether the showers would occur over dry areas or water catchment sites. That’s why even though it has rained, you still hear reports of water shortage.”
MET, he added, forecast the drier than usual weather pattern to taper out by August.
Wong said beginning August and September, normal patterns should return.
“However, one should remember that August and September are dry months, too.”
Sarawak has experienced the worst of the haze in Malaysia in recent weeks. Local forest fires have caused the air pollutant index (API) in and near Miri to reach “very unhealthy” levels, with readings hovering between 220 and 250 recently.
At Institut Latihan Perindustrian (ILP) Miri’s, the API station near Permyjaya, a satellite township 14km from Miri city, recorded a reading of 245 on June 27.
The fires were put out briefly, but reports over the weekend indicated certain parts of nearby forests have reignited.
The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry has said some fires were spreading underground.
Although MET could not say for sure whether or not the haze would get worse, Wong said recent forecasts were spot on.
“And that’s really unfortunate when you think about it. We predicted dry weather, and unfortunately, we’ve been accurate so far.”
In fact, he said, Sarawak was spared a far worse haze last month only because the wind direction was in our favour.
“I wish to state here that the public really have to refrain from open burning. We have not really had the haze because the wind did not blow in from the neighbouring country.
“But look at the northern region, their haze was by ‘in situ’ (local) fires. Do your little bit to be environmentally conscious,” Wong said.