More sunshine from this week amid La Nina

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians can expect a relief from prolonged heavy rains once the monsoon break culminates this week.

Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) director-general Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said the respite, however, would be short-lived due to the ongoing La Nina season.

He said subsequently, the interior parts of the peninsula would receive more sunshine and fewer episodes of rain this week.

"However, thunderstorms are expected to hit some places in the west coast of the peninsula and the west of Sabah in the mornings.

"Meanwhile, the east coast of the peninsula and the interior parts of Sarawak are more prone to thunderstorms in the evenings.

"As for the overall weather pattern, MetMalaysia is not expecting prolonged periods of heavy downpour in the near future once the monsoon break ends this week," he told the New Straits Times on Tuesday.

Lately, several parts of Malaysia have experienced sudden episodes of heavy rains, driven by the La Nina cycle.

La Nina is a weather pattern that typically occurs every two to seven years when the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean starts cooling off.

During a La Nina cycle, strong winds push the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean towards the ocean's west (Asia region). Since rain clouds usually form above warm ocean waters, the western Pacific region, including Malaysia, receives heavy rainfall.

Meanwhile, the cold waters that move towards the eastern Pacific region causes fewer clouds to form, and leads to dry spells in parts of the United States.

At present, Helmi said, Malaysia is experiencing a mild La Nina that will most likely persist until year-end.

The World Meteorological Organisation on June 10 said some long-lead predictions suggested that the current La Nina cycle might last into 2023.

Although Malaysia is currently experiencing the Southwest Monsoon, Helmi said the country would not face prolonged dry spells until the monsoon period ends.

This, he said, was because La Nina is expected to shadow over the Southwest Monsoon, which would have otherwise caused a hot and dry climate.

The Southwest Monsoon, Helmi said, is expected to end in mid-September, following which, a monsoon transition period will set in before the Northeast Monsoon begins in November.

"During the monsoon transition period, more frequent rains and thunderstorms will occur in the evenings and early hours of the night.

"Meanwhile, during the Northeast Monsoon period (between November 2022 and March 2023), the rainfall is mostly concentrated in east coast states in the peninsula, west of Sarawak, as well as the northern and eastern parts of Sabah," he said.

Although the country will see a rise in rainfall due to La Nina, Helmi said the rainfall distribution in most parts of the country would not exceed the average precipitation level.

"Only Johor and the west of Sarawak will receive higher rainfall distribution than their average levels until October.

"Kelantan and Terengganu, meanwhile, will receive lower rainfall distribution than their average levels between August and September," he said.

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