Much of central and eastern India is facing yet another week of brutally hot weather. The Indian Meteorological Department has issued the highest heat alert for parts of Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand in the coming days and a heat-wave warning for Telangana and the eastern districts of Maharshtra. But just as Marathawada has been reeling from unusually hot and dry weather, so has Malaysia.Much of South East Asia has been suffering the impacts of the lingering El Nino. Temperatures in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lampur have been almost five degrees higher than normal on many days through March and April.
The Malaysian government felt compelled to close more than 250 schools across the country last week to protect 100,000 students from temperatures above 37 degrees Celsius. The weather has affected vegetable, paddy and rubber production in the agrarian districts, that are also seeing lower-than-normal rainfall. Newspapers also reported that fish prices have more than doubled as warm weather has caused large-scale deaths of fresh water fish.
With lakes like the man-made Tasek Takong drying up and water levels in reservoirs falling quickly, many Malaysian districts have started rationing water. The Straits Times reports that the water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor district, which helps meet half of Singapore's water needs, was just over one-third full ‒ a new historic low. The 85,000 domestic and industrial customers in Johor now will get normal water supply only once every three days.
Resorting to cloud seeding?
Meanwhile, the Penang Water Supply Corporation has warned that there isn’t enough water in the dams and rivers of four northern states in Malaysia for irrigation and domestic consumption through the summer till June, which will affected four million people in the area. The crisis has made the chief minister of Penang state ask the Malaysian government consider large-scale cloud seeding over the the northern states to trigger rainfall before they run out of water.
Cloud seeding the the process of dispersing certain chemicals within clouds to provide nuclei around which water can condense, thereby producing rain. Malaysia and Indonesia resorted to cloud seeding last year to clear the haze that descended on the countries when massive forest fires broke out.
Malaysia recorded its first heat wave death in mid-March when a 23-year-old trainee policeman dies of heatstroke. The number of people reporting heat illness has risen in the country through March and April.
In the Philippines, the country’s heat index set a new record twice this summer. The index, which is a measure of actual heat experienced based on air temperature and humidity and is also called the human discomfort index, hit a blistering 51 degree Celsius last week in the landlocked province of Nueva Ecija, according to news reports. Even Singapore recorded its highest temperature in a decade on April 13, hitting 36.7 degree Celsius.