PETALING JAYA: In light of the ongoing El Nino phenomenon, which is expected to persist until the middle of the year, the public has been advised to exercise caution considering the risks associated with the high temperatures.

Meteorological Department (METMalaysia) director-general Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said El Nino began in the middle of 2023 and could continue for up to 18 months.

He said the country is in the final phase of the Northeast Monsoon, which is expected to last until early April.

“Throughout this period, clouds and rainfall distribution have generally been lower in most areas, especially in the northern region of the peninsula, including Perak, Pahang and Kelantan.

“The prolonged absence of rainfall could lead to hotter and drier weather than usual and during this period, the maximum daily temperature could exceed 35°C in the early afternoon.

“The peak effects of El Nino typically begin at the end of the Northeast Monsoon but even so, thunderstorms accompanied by heavy rain and strong winds could occur even during hot weather.”

Last week, the National Disaster Management Agency announced that a second person had died of heatstroke.

The first incident reported on Feb 2 involved a 22-year-old from Pahang while the latest involved a three-year-old boy in Kelantan.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia public health specialist Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh advised the public to wear light coloured, loose fitting clothing to allow for adequate airflow.

She also called on the public to avoid engaging in strenuous physical activities during the hottest parts of the day.

“It’s best to organise indoor activities during Hari Raya and ensure there is adequate ventilation so guests can enjoy the festivities comfortably.

“If hosting an outdoor gathering, create shaded areas with umbrellas, canopies or tents. Host your activities during the late afternoon or at night to reduce the impact of the heat,” she said.

Sharifa Ezat added that it is important to drink plenty of water during high temperatures or heatwaves to prevent dehydration, which can cause dizziness, headaches and fatigue.

She said one should seek medical attention if exhibiting symptoms such as body temperature above 40°C, unusual behaviour, excessive sweating, rapid heartbeat, nausea and vomiting.

“Do not move from a cold to a hot environment as it can disrupt the body’s temperature regulation, consequently increasing the likelihood of having heat cramps, exhaustion and heatstroke.”

Meanwhile, MetMalaysia forecast heavy rain and thunderstorms this week in certain states as Hari Raya coincides with the monsoon transition phase.

Its spokesman said states on the east coast, Sabah and Sarawak are expected to experience rain in the morning.

“In the afternoon, there may be rain and thunderstorms in many areas of Sarawak and the interior regions of the peninsula.”

However, the spokesman advised the public to consult the weather forecast for their respective areas during the Hari Raya celebrations before organising their activities.