Fadli, Batam – The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) in Batam, Riau Islands, has warned local residents to be aware of fire risk as temperatures pass 33 degrees Celsius in the city.
Suratman, the local BMKG office chief, said temperatures had been recorded rising since early March, with the latest peak recorded at 33.2C on April 5, as the Sun is near the equatorial regions following the solstice on March 20.
"With these kinds of weather conditions, we are calling for residents to be vigilant of fire risks," Suratman said on Tuesday.
The hot weather is expected to continue in the coming week, with temperatures in the city averaging 32C. "The rain is expected to begin falling only in May," he said.
The BMKG is also calling residents to be wary of the risk of heat stroke.
The government expects that this year will be drier compared with the past three years, which could translate to a higher risk of forest fires than in previous years.
In January, BMKG predicted that the El Nino-Southern Oscillation and the Indian Ocean Dipole were expected to be in their neutral phases in 2023, meaning the archipelago will see less rainfall compared with 2022.
From the start of the year until June the potential for fire hotspots would be relatively low, however, the dry season of August to September could pose a higher risk of forest fires than the dry seasons of 2020 to 2022, which were relatively wet, BMKG has warned.
The agency has also specifically warned authorities and residents to watch out for the potential for fires in northern parts of Sumatra, such as North Sumatra, Riau and Aceh.
According to government data, about 202,617 hectares (ha) of land and forest were burned between January to November, compared with 358,867 ha throughout 2021 and 296,942 ha in 2020. Indonesia also recorded the lowest rate of deforestation in the last two decades at around 113,500 ha per year between 2020-2021. (dre)