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Asia 20 Jul 06
Hazy days expected in Singapore over next few months
SINGAPORE : Singaporeans should expect hazy days over the next few months, but the weatherman says that the PSI level is not likely to go beyond the moderate range.
The haze has traditionally appeared in the months of July to October, coinciding with the dry months, which can cause forest fires. This is coupled with the practice of land clearing by farmers on timber or palm oil plantations in Indonesia.
Recently, increased hotspots from Sumatra and Borneo have been observed. On July 5, 279 hotspots were detected in peatlands in Riau and Jambi. But the number dropped to about 170 on Monday, due probably to rain over the past two days, the Meteorological Services Division says.
Singapore has so far been spared from the smoke haze.
But the Meteorological Service is concerned that if the land and forest fires continue and prevailing winds remain, Singapore, Peninsula Malaysia and southern Thailand will be affected by it.
Said Foong Chee Leong, director-general, Meteorological Services Division, National Environment Agency, "If the hotspot activities in Sumatra continue to increase and when the wind changes from the current south-easterly and south-westerly winds to westerly, then we can expect some of the smoke haze to be blown towards Singapore. Under such circumstances, our air quality may move from the good range to the moderate range."
But it does not expect the PSI level to go beyond that. So far, the highest PSI level this year was 51, still in the moderate range, recorded on March 22.
Although some hazy days are expected ahead, there is still some respite in sight. Scattered showers during this period are likely to moderate some of the hotspots in the region and in Singapore. The weatherman says that this will help improve the air quality.
The Meteorological Service is monitoring the situation and working with its counterparts in the region to ensure that the situation does not worsen. It is also providing satellite pictures of the hotspots to the Indonesian authorities so that relevant actions can be taken.
The Met Service is also part of the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre, which was officially established in 1993 as a regional collaboration programme among the National Meteorological Services of ASEAN countries.
Smoke haze from Sumatra has already affected some parts of Malaysia, such as the Straits of Malacca. According to the Met Service, Singapore is not likely to be affected by smoke haze from Borneo although increased "hotspots" activities are also detected there.
Singapore has had an inter-ministry Haze Task Force since 1994 to look into emergency plans and minimise the adverse impact of smoke haze on the people. - CNA /ct
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