Skyjuice

Monitoring Haze

24 June 2013
 

Introduction

Haze is here to stay as long as there are plantations in Sumatra of  Indonesia where fire is often used to clear the lands for agricultural purposes.   The haze will linger over Singapore in the middle of the year until October or November when North West Monsoon begins to blow from North towards Sumatra.

Is Haze Dangerous?


Haze is harmful to human's respiration system;  prolonged inhaling of haze particles will cause sickness and those with acute respiration or heart problems  may find it life threatening.  During the hazy days with PSI (Air Pollution Index) going above 100,  many will have to cancel outdoor activities and will be advised to stay indoors or wear N95 face masks outdoors.   

How to Monitor?

 
Using particle counters that can measure air particulates as small as 2.5 micron in diameters;  however, these counters involves laser technology and they are not cheap.  A cheap one will cost around SGD$300-400 and professional ones may be as high as SGD$30,000/=.  These counters are out of reach of most households.  Fortunately,  Singapore's NEA (National Environmental Agency) and Malaysia's DOE (Department of Environment) maintain websites during the period where one could get latest readings of the pollution indexes. The Singapore website provides 3 hourly as well as 24 hour readings whereas the Malaysian website updates the data once every 4 hours. 

The Singapore's NEA website can be found here.

The Malaysia's DOE website is here 
(Note:  this website is always in heavy usage;  accessible easily off peak)

How About Forecasting? 


The Singapore's NEA provides daily forecast in its website and the forecast is updated once a day.  However,  the forecasts are not often accurate for some reasons;  for example,  NEA forecasted that the PSI  will reach 300  on 23 Jun 2013 whereas the day's actual  maximum was around 110 and staying below 100 most of the day.
 
 

How Can We Confirm the Forecast?


Fortunately,  there are very comprehensive free weather forecasting website available for Singapore;  they are:-
 
a)  Windalert



One can use their wind direction predictions together with the regional haze map  to check and confirm the forecast.

How?


One will need the following tools:- 

a)  A regional haze map showing the geographicallocation of the haze(free from NEA);  for example
  

b)  The prediction of the wind directions given by the 3 free weather sites;  for example,

 

First check the haze map.  If Singapore is not in or near the haze cloud as is shown in the above haze map,  Singapore is likely to be free from haze for the day. This should be further confirmed by the wind directions. If the wind direction is not pointing East or North East  and is pointing North or North West like being shown,   most likely one would enjoy pollution free sky in Singapore and vice versa.

 

Planning for a Trip to Malaysia? 


Many planned to hide from the haze and go to Genting Highland for holidays;  some went to Penang. Is it safe?

The Regional Haze Map,  the DOE and wind direction predictions will show that it is not advisable to head to Kuala Lumpur,  Genting,  Pahang,  Muar or Melaka at the present moment.  The haze cloud and the wind directions are heading North and North West.  Penang at present is free from pollution but will soon be clouded with haze if the prevailing North West wind is strong.

Planning to Go Out?

One could check the sky condition and also the webcam picture from the following sites for conditions of the haze. 

a)  Webcam @ Admiralty Road

b)  Webcam @ Kent-Ridge

c)  Webcam @ Raffles Place





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