PETALING JAYA: The recent flooding incident that had caused widespread damage throughout the country will recur, says a climatologist.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia climatologist Prof Dr Fredolin Tangang said people cannot assume that massive floods like these would only occur on the east coast, as it has been seen that it now can also happen in the west coast of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan.“The aftermath of the floods here can be disastrous, even more so compared to the east coast as these are urban areas and have denser populations.

“This is a lesson to be learnt for all of us – the authorities and the public. The public too needs to heed any warnings issued by the authorities in the future,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Prof Fredolin pointed out that such an incident can happen again as it is not the first time a tropical depression has occurred and caused tremendous damage.

He said it has happened in the past in states such as Sabah, Johor and Penang where it had also triggered floods.

On whether the recent floods were due to climate change, Prof Fredolin said it is not a straightforward matter as this required further detailed study with computer simulations.

Despite this, he said it could still be concluded that climate change has been attributed to almost all extreme weather in the last two to three decades.

“In fact, Malaysia’s flooding events have been on the rise for the last two decades, including in other parts of South-East Asia.

“This is happening because when temperature increases, the air has more ability to hold more moisture. The moisture will then come down as rainfall,” he said.

“So, with more moisture, this can fuel this kind of extreme weather.”

Prof Fredolin, who is also the UKM chair of the Department of Earth Sciences and Environment, believed that the tropical depression that hovered over the Straits of Malacca was a remnant of a system that was first detected on Dec 15 when the low-pressure system appeared off Sarawak and the South China Sea, adding that it then moved westward.

“I think by Dec 16 to Dec 17 the system was very close to the east coast causing moisture convergence over Terengganu, Kelantan and Pahang resulting in heavy rainfall, that was why there were also floods there,” he said.

He added that the tropical depression, depending on the ocean temperature when it is over land, is supposed to die out.

But, he said it did not happen this time, with the remnants of it strengthening as it went to the Straits of Malacca.

This, he said, triggered the continuous rainfall that was seen in the past few days.

MetMalaysia forecast that the weather this morning would see rain in areas in Kelantan, Terengganu, Selangor, Sabah (Tawau, Sandakan, Kudat), Sarawak (Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah) and the shorelines of Perak, Negri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor.

In the afternoon, it predicted that it would rain in the interiors of Perlis, Kedah, and Sarawak (Sri Aman, Betong, Mukah, Miri and Limbang).

Thunderstorms are forecasted in Kuala Lumpur, Sarawak (Kuching, Serian, Samarahan, Sibu, Kapit, Bintulu) and interiors of Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Johor, Sabah (Tawau, Sandakan, Kudat) and Labuan.At night rain is expected in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perak (interiors), Sabah (Tawau, Sandakan, and Kudat) and Sarawak (Kapit and Miri).

Thunderstorms are also expected in the Sabah’s interiors and in Labuan.

Association of Water and Energy Research Malaysia (Awer) president S. Piarapakaran said it was the responsibility of MetMalaysia to alert other agencies of an impending weather situation.

“If you are releasing information and nobody is taking it seriously then there is something wrong. This needs to be sorted out.

“I believe the auditor-general can look at what is happening in MetMalaysia by comparing it to other regions (weather agencies) such as Japan, Taiwan or the United States to see what they are doing and how MetMalaysia can improve. Look at the gaps,” he said.

MetMalaysia has recently come under heavy criticism due to its inaction in informing the public over the continuous rainfall that occurred in the country.

However, MetMalaysia has previously denied this, noting that they have been providing information and warnings since Dec 11.