Written by Kumudu Jayawardana
26 Feb, 2014 | 3:52 pm
Singapore and Malaysia are grappling with some of the driest weather they have ever seen, forcing the tiny city-state to ramp up supplies of recycled water while its neighbour rations reserves amid disruptions to farming and fisheries.
Singapore, which experiences tropical downpours on most days, suffered its longest dry spell on record between Jan 13 and Feb 8 and has had little rain since.
In peninsular Malaysia, 15 areas have not had rainfall in more than 20 days, with some of them dry for more than a month, according to the Malaysian Meteorological Department.
The dry spell in the Southeast Asian neighbours is expected to run for another two weeks, forecasters say.
The Indonesian province of Riau has also been hit, with part of the region wreathed in smog, usually caused by farmers setting fires to illegally clear land. Poor visibility has disrupted flights to and from the airport in Pekanbaru.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak was due to discuss the drought at a regular cabinet meeting on Wednesday that would decide whether to declare a national emergency, according to state news agency Bernama.
While some dry weather is expected at this time of year, the abnormal lack of rain is raising concerns about the pace of climate change in the region.
“The concern is that these uncommon weather events may be happening more frequently sooner rather than later,” said National University of Singapore weather researcher Winston Chow.
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