PETALING JAYA - The haze situation here took a turn for the worse with Klang, Shah Alam, Subang and Kuala Lumpur as the areas hard hit by the smog but Malaysians can expect a slight relief today.
A change in wind direction and speed is expected to ease the situation today.
The Meteorological Department said regional winds coming from north Sumatra could help to reduce haze in the peninsula.
"There will be a change in wind direction and speed starting tomorrow (today). This will probably help to ease the haze," its spokesman Dr Hisham Mohd Anip told The Star.
He said winds blowing the haze were now coming from south Sumatra with a separate flow today coming from north and central areas of the island.
Dr Hisham said this might last for two or three days.
Yesterday, Malacca's Bukit Rambai had the worst Air Pollutant Index (API) reading of 171 as at 3pm.
At least 17 areas in the peninsula, including Petaling Jaya, Port Klang, Shah Alam and Banting, experienced unhealthy API readings of more than 100.
The only place that saw a healthy API was Kelantan's Tanah Merah, with a reading of 38 as at 3pm.
Asked about the possibility of rain, he said there would be "more rain" for northern peninsula states, including Kelantan.
"As for other states, not much," he added.
The department, he said, was on standby for cloud-seeding, adding that the atmosphere was not "favourable" for now as there were less clouds around.
Dr Hisham had previously expected the haze to last until Sept 20 when winds would blow the smoke back to Indonesia with more rain expected.
Meanwhile, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said satellite images detected 53 hotspots in Sumatra and another 97 in Kalimantan. Two were found in Malaysia.
However, Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the actual number was not known due to cloud cover.
He added that while more haze was expected to come over large parts of the country, this was expected to end with the inter-monsoon period from mid-September.
"During this season, the country will be wetter compared to now, especially in the west coast states in the peninsula and west Sabah, and a change in wind direction," he said.
Dr Wan Junaidi said 3,270 open burning cases were detected from Jan 1 to Sept 12 this year.
To report an open burning case, the public can call the Fire Department at 999 or the Department of Environment at 1-800-88-2727.