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'Strong' El Nino to cause low rainfall in Malaysia

Malaysia’s rainfall intensity is expected to reduce by 20 to 60 percent starting this month, following the El Nino phenomenon currently sweeping the country.

Meteorological Department director-general Che Gayah Ismail said the current El Nino level was categorised as ‘strong’ and the country’s temperature is expected to rise between 0.5 to two degrees Celsius.

She said the strong impact of El Nino would continue until April with the northern states in the peninsula starting to feel its effects.

“El Nino’s strong impact will be felt by all the states in the peninsula, Sabah as well as in the Miri and Limbang divisions in Sarawak by the end of this month.

“If we look at the records, the country’s maximum temperature when hit by El Nino in 1998 had reached 40.1 degrees Celsius,” she said.

“Therefore we do not rule out the possibility that the same situation will be repeated,” she added.

El Nino is a warming of the sea surface temperatures which occurs six months in a row every two to four years in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

It can cause a chain of climate change worldwide, among them heavy rainfall in some areas and prolonged drought in others.

The United Nations (UN) released a statement in December last year stating that the El Nino phenomenon was sweeping across the world and that the phenomenon which began with mild and localised conditions in the Pacific in late 2014, had now intensified to cover large portions of Asia and the Pacific.

El Nino is likely to have profound effects on central and southern India, central and north-east Thailand, the central and southern Philippines, northern Cambodia, eastern Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and many Pacific island nations.

In the meantime, Che Gayah said the intensity of El Nino was expected to reach its peak this month, and gradually weaken from February, and the situation is expected to become neutral after June this year.

- Bernama