Sat, 04 Jan 2003

Flooding may hit Jakarta next week: Weather agency

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Jakartans may need more than umbrellas next week, with the Meteorological and Geological Agency (BMG) warning that floods could hit a number of areas in the capital.

The city could experience three consecutive days of more than 100 millimeters of rain next week. With such intensity, inundations were likely to occur in the city's flood-prone areas, Achmad Zakir, head of the BMG's weather forecasting division, said on Friday.

"We are warning the people of Jakarta, particularly those who live in flood-prone areas, to anticipate possible flooding next week, because based on our forecasts the intensity of the rainfall will increase," Zakir told The Jakarta Post.

People should also be prepared to spend much more time on the road, because if it does flood the city will certainly experience heavy traffic congestion.

Numerous city officials have acknowledged that flooding will remain a major problem in Jakarta over the next several years, because the available flood control system is unable to cope with the water. The Eastern Flood Canal, designed to ease flooding in the capital, has been repeatedly delayed because of financial difficulties.

The head of the City Public Works Agency, IGKG Suena, said flood control projects carried out by his agency last year would only ease the problem in five of 78 flood-prone areas in the city.

Zakir said serious flooding could occur in areas near the city's 13 main rivers, which will be swollen both by rainfall in Jakarta as well as rain in upper areas like Bogor and Depok in West Java and Tangerang in Banten.

He said the expected increase in rainfall next week would be the result of strong winds flowing across the Indian Ocean, known in Indonesia as the West Wind.

The winds, pushing thick clouds across the Indian Ocean, will flow over the western part of Java island and some parts of Sumatra island.

According to Zakir, the temperature of the sea surface will reach 29 degrees Celsius, from a normal temperature of 27 degrees Celsius.

"Because of the warmer sea surface the water will evaporate more quickly. This will produce larger clouds which can produce heavy rainfall," he said.

Zakir, however, could not say if next week would be the peak of the rainy season. He would only say that the rainy season in the city would be focused in January and February.

Meanwhile, the head of Extreme Weather at the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, Rokhis Khomarudin, said heavy rain was expected in many areas in the country, particularly in the eastern regions.

According to Rokhis, the activities of a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean would move from western Indonesia to eastern Indonesia, causing heavy rain in the eastern part of the country. However, he said rain would continue to fall in western Indonesian as well.

He said rainfall in many parts of the country would be heavier than in previous days.

Since the rainy season began, a number of areas, particularly in western Indonesia, have been hit by serious flooding. Floods have occurred in Bandung, Jambi, Lampung, South Sumatra and East Java.