Possible haze in second half of March as northeast monsoon winds weaken: NEA

A resident attempts to put out a fire spreading in a plantation area in Dumai district, Riau province located in Sumatra island on March 3, 2014.

Northeast monsoon winds that have so far kept the haze in Sumatra, Indonesia, at arm's length from Singapore may begin to weaken in the second half of March, posing "some risk" of the haze affecting Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has warned. This may happen if winds begin to blow from the west, it said in an advisory on Thursday.


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Here is the full statement from the NEA on Mar 6:

Singapore – The National Environment Agency (NEA) reported that the air quality between 8pm Tuesday night and 4am yesterday deteriorated slightly into the ‘Moderate’ range. The 24 -hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) range over that period was 51 to 52. This was due to an accumulation of particulate matter in the atmosphere under converging wind conditions. The air quality has been in the ‘Good’ range since 5am yesterday.

Prolonged dry weather affecting parts of the region these last two months has resulted in an escalation of hotspot activities in central and northern Sumatra since early February 2014. Smoke plumes and widespread moderate to dense haze are visible in Riau province. In the past week, elevated hotspot activities were also detected in parts of Peninsular Malaysia. On 5 March 2014, 6 and 47 hotspots were detected in Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia respectively; the low hotspot count for Sumatra was due to cloud cover and partial satellite coverage.

Although increased rainfall can be expected later in the month, rainfall total for March 2014 is forecast to be below average in most parts of the region.  With the expected transition from the Northeast Monsoon to the inter-monsoon period in the second half of March 2014, winds in the region will turn light and variable in direction. This may pose some risk of transboundary haze affecting Singapore should the hotspots in Sumatra persist and the prevailing winds in our region temporarily turn westerly. The inter-monsoon period typically lasts from late March to May. 

NEA will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary. 

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