PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Good news for participants and spectators at the 29th SEA Games - it's going to be haze-free throughout the KL 2017 event, said the Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia).
While recent thunderstorms have brought heavy rain and floods in several states, the silver lining is that the downpours are dousing any chance of haze.
"With the SEA Games taking place, we were worried the haze might make an appearance but the recent wet weather, especially in the Klang Valley, has been good news," said MetMalaysia Director-General Alui Bahari.
Malaysia is currently experiencing the south-west monsoon - which is typically drier - but he said so far, there was no indication of a build-up of hot spots or forest fires in Malaysia or Indonesia due to the wet spell.
When asked about MetMalaysia's forecasts on the downpours that had caught many off guard, Alui said there were two types of rain in the country.
"For rains brought by the monsoon, we provide two to three days' advance warning," he said.
However, for thunderstorms which occur when moist air near the ground becomes heated and rises to form cumulonimbus clouds that bring rain, Alui said these were harder to predict.
"It is harder to predict how intense it will get and we can at best only give two to three hours' notice," he said, adding that forecasters would know in advance where a thunderstorm was likely to hit.
"A three-hour warning for a thunderstorm is still okay but if you want a warning a day before or even earlier, it will be very difficult.
"In any country near the equator you will find that such a technology does not exist," he said.
He said in most developed countries, the climate was temperate with four clearly defined seasons.
"The weather patterns in these countries form and hold for a longer time. In our country, where the climate is tropical, thunderstorms build up and last for a shorter period," he said.
On whether MetMalaysia's equipment could be upgraded to allow for further improvements in forecasting, Alui said those in its weather monitoring stations were all up to date.
However, there was an ongoing effort by MetMalaysia to widen and increase its weather radar coverage, he said.
There are various ways to keep up with the latest weather alerts from MetMalaysia, including following its official Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/malaysiamet/), downloading its app myCuaca or a third party app Rain Alarm, which uses radar coverage.