La Nina on the horizon

La Nina will begin in June and September this year according to the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia).

The director-general of MetMalaysia, Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said that La Nina can last between five and 18 months. 

“La Nina can last between five and 18 months. Based on international forecast models, the coming La Nina is expected to be at a weak or moderate strength,” he told the The Star. 

He also mentioned that each La Nina event is unique and can have varying effects.

He further said that La Nina tends to reach their peak towards the end of the year and could extend into the early months of the following year.

He added that when combined with the northeast monsoon season, which usually occurs in November, the moist weather along the east coast of the peninsula might persist until March of the following year.

“Tropical storms are also expected to be more active in the west Pacific Ocean during a La Nina period. This can result in moist weather along the west coast of Sabah and northern Sarawak,” he added. 

Increased funding needed to mitigate disaster risks

Director of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Centre at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Dr Khamarrul Azahari Razak, stressed the need for increased funding to mitigate disaster risks, emphasising that numerous climate-related disasters have a local impact.

He also pointed out the vital need for cohesive integration of sturdy infrastructure and development strategies throughout every phase, spanning from design and construction to management and maintenance.

“We must adopt the Japanese model of the 3-Help – Public Help, Mutual Help and Self-Help – to foster a comprehensive societal resilience against climate-induced disasters,” he said. 

He emphasised the need to enhance the risk transfer mechanism for businesses, particularly small and medium enterprises.

“The cascading impact of climate risk to local businesses and livelihoods is prevalent.

“For example, about 62% of our agriculture zones are at high risk, and its impact is very systemic, especially to poor, marginalised and disadvantaged communities,” he said.

He also stressed the significance of keeping hazard risk maps up to date, swiftly sharing disaster hotspot information, and improving risk communication strategies.

The previous La Nina episode, which commenced in 2020, was initially projected to last only a year; however, it persisted until early 2023. 

During this time, the Klang Valley experienced severe flooding in December 2021 and March 2022, while Baling in Kedah also faced major floods in July 2022.

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