PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Temperatures continued to soar throughout Malaysia as the number of areas on heatwave alert doubled to 10 compared with two weeks ago.
The dry weather has also led to water supply concerns in some states, including Perak and Kelantan, while the Education Ministry has advised schools to monitor outdoor activities and ensure students drink enough water, in light of the current hot weather, which is set to last until April.
The hottest spots on Monday (Feb 25) were Chuping in the northern state of Perlis; and Kubang Pasu, Kota Setar and Sik in neighbouring Kedah, which all hit a high of 36 deg C.
The four areas, along with Kepong (Kuala Lumpur); Hulu Perak, Kuala Kangsar and Kinta (Perak); Maran (Pahang); and Tangkak (Johor) were placed on Category 1 or heatwave alert, according to data from the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) website.
Category 1 is when the mercury climbs to between 35 deg C and 37 deg C for three days in a row. Since Feb 13, the number of towns on Category 1 has gone up from five to 10.
According to MetMalaysia, the current hot weather in the west coast states of the peninsula and Sabah is expected to continue until the end of next month.
The hot weather is a normal phenomenon, which begins at the tail end of the north-east monsoon.
The monsoon started in November and ends in April, and is followed by the intermonsoon period, which usually brings more thunderstorms in the west coast and interior of the peninsula, east coast of Sabah and central Sarawak.
Data from the Selangor Water Management Authority website showed that the water level in Sungai Selangor dam, which supplies 70 per cent of the treated water in Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding areas, was still very high, at 98 per cent on Monday.
However, in Perak, state Public Amenities and Infrastructure Committee chairman Abdul Yunus Jamhari has requested paddy farmers in Kerian, which is the main paddy farming district in the state, to control their water use due to the current hot and dry weather.
"If we waste water in our paddy fields in the current hot weather, it could affect our crops," he was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama.
Separately, the Education Ministry has urged schools to take precautionary measures due to the heat.
In a statement, it said schools must monitor outdoor activities and to postpone them if it is too hot.
The statement also asked schools to ensure adequate supply of clean drinking water and for teachers to encourage students to drink lots of water.
Category 2 happens when temperatures rise above 37 deg C for three consecutive days.
When this happens, the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry is empowered to officially declare a heatwave in that location.
This is to enable the authorities to take follow-up action, such as closing schools.
When an area hits Category 3 (temperature above 40 deg C three days in a row, which is considered the emergency level), the National Disaster Management Agency will be notified and the Prime Minister can declare an emergency.