Haze continues slow spread northwards

The Star, 24 jul 2013

PETALING JAYA: Transboundary haze from Indonesia has reached parts of Terengganu, Kelantan and Penang, causing visibility levels to dip.

Meteorological Department central forecasting office director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said visibility was poor at Kuala Terengganu Sultan Mahmud Airport, reaching up to 3km as of yesterday evening.

“It was up to 6km at Kerteh Airport (in Terengganu) and Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas,” he told The Star.

However, visibility was up to 10km at Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Kota Baru, Kelantan, which he said was considered good.

Meanwhile, Petaling Jaya and Subang experienced poor visibility levels around noon, but later improved to 6km and 9km, respectively.

Muhammad Helmi said the haze outlook would remain the same till tomorrow when rain was expected over Johor, Pahang and the Klang Valley.

“The haze should still continue its slow spread northwards and inland as the number of hotspots in Sumatra has decreased only slightly,” he said.

Despite the spread, the 5pm Air Pollutant Index (API) readings provided by the Department of Environment showed only two areas with unhealthy air quality – Bukit Rambai (103) and Tanjung Malim (106).

Nine areas hovered just below unhealthy levels – Muar (94), Port Klang (97), Seri Manjung (94), Kuala Selangor (92), Petaling Jaya (90), Kemaman (96), Kuala Terengganu (93) and Batu Muda (90) and Cheras (93) in Kuala Lumpur.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s reading on Monday, Sumatra had 252 hotspots compared to 261 on Sunday.

The haze has made a comeback in the past few days after the number of hotspots increased from three on Thursday to 159 on Saturday.

However, it is not as severe as the choking smog enveloping Singapore and parts of the peninsula last month when API readings reached hazardous levels in some areas.

Indonesia’s The Jakarta Post reported that Pekanbaru, the capital of Riau province, had very limited visibility after it was once again choked by haze, believed to be from resumed land and forest burning.

It said visibility at the Sultan Syarif Kasim II International Airport there had hit an all-year low of 700m at 7.30am yesterday, while a number of flights had been postponed or delayed for hours.