Malacca hit by haze - again

KUALA LUMPUR - As forewarned by the authorities, the haze has returned.

Two areas in Malacca were hit with Bukit Rambai recording an unhealthy Air Pollution Index (API) reading of 114 as of 4pm yesterday.

The reading for Malacca city rose from 70 as of midnight to 88 by 3pm, reducing visibility to the extent of slowing down traffic.

Department of Environment (DOE) director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan said the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) detected three hotspots in Sumatra on Thursday, which spiked to 43 on Friday and 159 on Satur­day.

"DOE is monitoring the situation closely and is looking out for any open burning," she said.

ASMC's hotspot map stated that four hotspots were detected in Johor as of early Saturday morning.

Meteorological Department central forecasting office director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said haze particles would be carried across to Peninsular Malaysia as the wind was still blowing from a southwesterly direction.

"The number of hotspots is also very important. If it increases, then even a light wind will carry the haze particles across," he pointed out.

Fortunately, he said the current wind strength was weaker compared to several weeks ago when severe haze shrouded parts of the peninsula and Singapore.

Muhammad Helmi said drier weather was expected in the coming weeks due to changing weather patterns which could lead to the haze affecting the region again.

"If conditions worsen, we will look at the possibility of conducting cloud seeding again," he said, adding that cloud seeding operations would not be successful if the weather was very dry.