Moderate hazy conditions to continue

Hakim Hayat

Slight to moderate hazy conditions are expected to persist in the country with chances of gradual improvement over the next few days due to the likely change in wind direction. ‘Moderate’ levels of haze were recorded across all districts in the country by yesterday afternoon.

The Brunei Darussalam Meteorological Department (BDMD) stated dry weather prevailed over many areas of southern ASEAN with persistent hotspots scattered around the region (see illustration).

Some of the smoke haze continued to be blown by the wind towards the country resulting in transboundary haze.

Based on the latest numerical weather prediction models, the wind flow across Brunei is likely to shift from Southwest to Northeast or East over the weekend and early next week, bringing relief to hazy conditions. The Brunei International Airport Meteorological Station recorded horizontal visibility ranging between three and 6km (compared to the horizontal visibility range of more than 10km during fine weather situation) during the past 24 hours due to the hazy weather condition.

Meanwhile, closer to home, Malaysian news agency Bernama reported that about 60 per cent of the fire in 81 hectares of plantation land and forest area in Sri Aman, Sarawak, where haze readings have reached ‘hazardous’ levels, have been put out as of Friday.

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Fire and Rescue Department, the Civil Defence Force, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, with the cooperation of various other agencies, were working hard to put out the fire in the remaining 32 hectares of land.

Sarawak’s Department of Environment (DOE) said the fires were a factor contributing to the Air Pollutant Index (API) in Sri Aman shooting up to more than 300 which is in the hazardous category.

Forest fires in Sumatera and Kalimantan, Indonesia, were still causing the haze, resulting in the rise in Air Pollution Index (API) readings in all areas along the west coast and south parts of Peninsular Malaysia, west Sarawak, as well as Tawau and Sandakan in Sabah.

BDMD also said that as the country is still in the Southwest Monsoon season, where the wind is blowing from the Southwest and also coincides with the season of active development of cyclonic systems such as tropical storms and typhoons over the regional seas, isolated showers or thundershowers are expected at several areas of the country.

As of 3pm yesterday BDMD said that Typhoon Tapah was observed over the East China Sea and is expected to move northward and further away from the region. Brunei will not be affected by Typhoon Tapah.

However, isolated showers or thundershowers can occur at several areas of the country.

Members of the public are advised to be alert with the current weather situations and take precautions during this hazy period. BDMD said they will continue to monitor the weather conditions and will issue weather advisory or warnings if necessary.