PETALING JAYA - The sweltering heat over the past few days is a taste of how hot it can be in the coming months.
Although there may be isolated rain and even thunderstorms in the next three months, the Meteorological Department says the average temperature could go as high as 36°C.
On Sunday, it said, meteorological stations in Felda Belera, Terengganu, and Daro, Sarawak, recorded readings of up to 37°C.
Apart from the hot and dry weather, more forest fires and thick smog are also expected in the near future.
The department said the country had entered the south-west monsoon season and Malaysians would experience an average maximum temperature of 33.1°C daily until September.
"The south-west monsoon season is synonymous with hot and dry weather.
"We expect to see more days without rain compared to days with rain and because of this, the heat from the sun will also become more apparent," it said in an e-mail yesterday.
Despite the heat, the department said there would still be instances of heavy rain in the interior areas of west Peninsula Malaysia and in Sabah and Sarawak.
The northern and central peninsula are expected to record the highest daily average temperatures of between 33°C and 34°C during the next three months.
The looming thick haze, it said, would be hazardous to health and affect the agricultural, aviation and tourism sectors.
"During the previous strong El Nino phenomenon which hit in 1997 and 1998, the maximum temperatures went up between 0.5 degrees and two degrees above the average."
On rain, the department said it expected up to 17 days without rain in the peninsula this month, and up to 19 days without rain for Sabah and Sarawak.
"During this dry season, the public is advised to drink a lot of water and avoid being exposed to direct sunlight.
"People are also advised to cut down on outdoor activities," it said.
Global Environment Centre director Faizal Parish said water levels in the dams were also likely to drop due to the hot spell.
"This year may be an El Nino year which means there will be less rain than normal.
"It is better to be cautious now, minimise water use and wastage and not wait for any crisis," he said.
According to the Selangor Water Management Authority website, water levels at the Sungai Selangor dam, which supplies water to over 60 per cent of Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor, stood at 43.52 per cent of its capacity yesterday. It's optimum level is 55 per cent.
Cloud seeding is still being continued in Selangor in the target areas, especially over the Sungai Selangor dam.