River confluence caused worst floods in Kelantan

River confluence caused worst floods in Kelantan

KUALA LUMPUR - Many of the towns worst hit by floods last year such as Kuala Krai in Kelantan are located in valley areas where rivers meet.

Dr Edlic Sathiamurthy of Universiti Malaysia Terengganu said these towns saw flood waters come from two bodies into one, swamping people there.

"Dabong, Temerloh and Kuala Krai, these are in areas of river confluence.

"These are areas where usually two water bodies meet, bringing an accumulation of flood flow," he said at a workshop on the floods yesterday.

Some areas such as Kuala Krai, he said, also had depressed topographies (or lower landscapes), making them prone to floods.

Referring to Kelantan's past rainfall data, he warned that massive floods may happen again, adding that there was a "pattern".

In 1967, 38 people died and 537,000 people were displaced in Kelantan's massive floods then.

He said China and the United States destroyed their levees (or embankments) at less "sensitive" areas in dealing with floods, so waters could overflow there instead of hitting the towns.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia's Prof Dr Zulkifli Yusop said the Drainage and Irrigation Department had done a study to look into building a dam upstream of Dabong.

"This is a flood mitigation dam but it must have a multi-purpose function for water resources, aquaculture and floods," he said.

Meteorological Department spokesman Dr Hisham Mohd Anip confirmed there was a "blind spot" in weather detection over Cameron Highlands and Gua Musang.

Although there were already six radars covering the peninsula, he mooted the idea of building another one for this region.

He also revealed that Typhoon Hagupit (Dec 1 to Dec 12), the worst cyclone to hit the Philippines last year, helped to reduce the massive rainfall over Malaysia then.

This was because the typhoon drew a portion of the cold air from the north of the world away from the monsoon storms here, he said.

"If there was no Hagupit, we would have had (heavy) rain for more than three weeks instead of two (over December)," he said.

He said the department was trying to update its forecasting models.

He admitted that some years might be needed before they were properly equipped to forecast, adding that even the United States had similar problems in getting things accurate.

National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia senior researcher Marini Ideris said land use contributed to the floods in Kelantan.

Later, when asked to elaborate, she said that the findings were still preliminary and needed more research.

Though many factors led to the floods last year, it is widely agreed that an extreme rainfall of over 1,500mm in December last year led to many areas being submerged under several metres of water.

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