Dry weather expected to persist, increasing risk of hotspots in Southeast Asia

Please rain.

Zhangxin Zheng | February 28, 2021, 10:37 AM

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The number of hotspots in the region appears to be on the rise, and the situation is likely to worsen if there is no rain.

Hotspots in Malaysia and Indonesia

According to the latest update by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Feb. 27, dry weather conditions are expected to persist over Malaysia, Singapore, and various parts of Indonesia. They include the northern and central parts of Sumatra, as well as the western and southern parts of Borneo Island.

Isolated hotspots were detected in Malaysia, northern Sumatra, and western Kalimantan, while isolated smoke plumes were observed emanating from hotspots in Malaysia and Kalimantan.

Thin to moderate smoke haze was observed over parts of southwestern Kalimantan.

Regional haze situation in the past three days via ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre.

However, the full extent of the smoke haze situation over Sumatra and Malaysia could not be discerned due to cloud cover, NEA said.

The dry conditions are expected to persist over Malaysia and Singapore, increasing the risk of hotspot activities in these areas. Isolated to scattered showers are forecasted elsewhere, NEA added.

Indonesia gets ready to combat fires

On Monday (Feb. 22), Indonesian President Joko Widodo ordered local authorities to get ready forest fire containment infrastructure as hotspots have been detected on Sumatra island.

CNA also reported that six regencies in the Indonesian province of Riau have raised their fire alert status.

The Indonesian climate agency BMKG said that some areas on Sumatra island are experiencing drought in February.

The agency also warned that the fires might continue till mid-March.

Forest and shrub fires in Batam Island, Riau Archipelago, Indonesia, on February 22, 2021 that occurred in a number of areas were thought to have been caused by hot weather and strong winds entering the dry season. Photo by Teguh Prihatna/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Hotspot and haze situations in the Mekong sub-region

NEA also updated that the hotspot and smoke haze situations in the northern region are likely to remain elevated as dry weather conditions are also expected to persist over the next few days.

The full extent of the situation on Feb. 27 could not be discerned due to cloudy conditions and partial satellite pass.

However, isolated and scattered hotspots were detected over much of the area.

Dense smoke haze was observed in Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia.

Many of these areas reported "Unhealthy" air quality values. Northeastern Thailand and its central highland regions reported "Very Unhealthy" air quality.

Top image via ASMC screenshot