Cloud-seeding operations likely to start today

by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by AFP

THE Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) is expected to carry out cloud-seeding operations in Sarawak today following the worsening Air Pollution Index (API) readings.

DG Jailan Simon said however, the procedure could be delayed for a few days if the atmospheric condition is still unstable for cloud development.

“The cloud-seeding operations will be conducted in western Sarawak today, depending on the suitability of the atmospheric conditions to ensure that the procedure is effective.

“MetMalaysia and the Royal Malaysian Air Force are currently on a standby mode to carry out the operations when the atmospheric conditions are right.

“We hope that we can start (cloud seedings) today or the next few days, but that depends on day-to-day observations of the conditions,” he told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

Jailan said a stable atmospheric condition with ample moisture content is favourable for the cloud-seeding procedure to ensure a significant result of rainfall volume.

“The suitability of cloud seeding counts on the stability of the atmospheric condition for cloud development, the moisture content in the atmosphere, availability of suitable cloud and the favourable wind conditions.

Based on the apims.doe.gov.my website, two observation stations in Sri Aman and Kuching, Sarawak, registered “very unhealthy” levels as at 5pm yesterday with API readings at 248 and 245 points respectively.

Nine observation stations recorded “unhealthy” status with readings between 101 and 200 points yesterday compared to last month’s data, when the Indera Mahkota Kuantan station in Pahang was the only station registering an “unhealthy” level at 106 points.

Of the nine stations, four were located in Sarawak, two (Kuala Lumpur) and one each in Putrajaya, Selangor, and Negri Sembilan.

The remaining 57 out of 68 stations being monitored by the Department of Environment were at “moderate” levels.

Despite being categorised under the “moderate” boundary, the stations in Seremban, Negri Sembilan, and Banting and Shah Alam in Selangor were edging towards the “unhealthy level” at 97 points.

According to the API of Malaysia, below 50 points signals good air quality, 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy and more than 300 is considered hazardous.

The classification noted that an unhealthy API could worsen the health conditions of people with heart and lung complications.

Meanwhile, the Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre has raised the alert level in Sumatra, Indonesia, to Level 3, which is the highest level of advisory alert, due to the further escalation of hotspot activities.

“Over the past few days, there has been a further escalation of hotspot activities and deterioration in haze situation in Sumatra. Persistent hotspots in Riau and Jambi have led to a build-up of moderate to dense smoke haze there.

Separately, the Sarawak Education Department has advised school administrators in the state to prioritise the health and safety of their students due to the prevailing haze.

The department said schools are required to cease all outdoor activities should the API reading exceeds the “moderate” level.

“If the API reading exceeds 200, all schools in the affected area or district should be closed immediately and that the principal or school head would have to inform the district education office,” it said.

The department added that at present, all public examinations would proceed as usual as the readings have not reached the “very unhealthy” level.

“However, the examination board will postpone any examination to another date should the API readings reach 300,” it added.