KUCHING - Sabah and Sarawak have recorded the third highest cumulative hotspot counts this year compared to the same period annually since 2006.
A total of 559 hotspots have been detected in Sabah and Sarawak, although last year, which was the highest, the cumulative count was at about 800 hotspots.
Since the weekend, a slight haze has returned to Sarawak, and the Malaysian Meteorological Department is predicting drier weather ahead.
In its long-range outlook, Sarawak's south and central regions could receive between 20 per cent and 40 per cent fewer rainfall at just 120mm to 170mm this month, while areas such as Sarikei, a semi-rural town in the state where clear blue skies are the norm, have started recording air quality index (API) readings of around 60 since Sunday.
In Kuching, the horizontal visibility was reduced briefly to 6km on Monday.
"Drier weather conditions are expected over Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Mukah, Sarikei, Sibu, Kapit and Bintulu divisions," said the department's seasonal prediction for June to November.
Over in Sabah, Sandakan and Kudat could experience similar dry weather, the report said.
"Based on a combination of information, most of the models show that weather activities are concentrated in the Central Pacific. This condition is consistent with the presence of weak El Nino in the Tropical Pacific belt," it added.
Meanwhile, according to the Fine Fuel Moisture Code, which indicates the relative ease of ignition and flammability of fine fuels, about half of Sarawak and most of Sabah were at the highest "extreme" reading on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Energy Bhd, the state's electricity company, said consumption increased tremendously by about 90MW every hot season, and the power was enough to light up nine middle-sized towns.
Peak hours are between 3pm and 5pm when the heat causes consumers to set air-conditioners at full blast.