Thu, 06 Mar 2003

Rainy season to end in April, May

Moch. N. Kurniawan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The rainy season that has triggered hundreds of natural disasters across the country will end early for many parts of the country, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency (BMG) says.

BMG chief Gunawan Ibrahim said Wednesday that rains would stop this month in many parts of Java, especially those in Central and East Java, Bali, as well as West and East Nusa Tenggara.

Rain will cease in Jakarta in April, while in other parts of the country, the season would end in May or June.

Gunawan warned that this would mean that people would have to prepare for an early dry season.

Gunawan said people in Central Java, Kalimantan, Maluku and Papua must prepare for possible droughts as these areas had recorded the lowest rainfalls in the last 30 years.

Central Java is one of the top rice producing regions in the country, while Kalimantan is home to millions of hectares of natural forests.

Gunawan urged people in Central Java to adjust their planting methods in light of the information, and people in Kalimantan, especially in East Kalimantan, not to clear land by burning forests.

"Central Java must be vigilant for paddy crop failure, while East Kalimantan and surrounding provinces must be alert for fires due to possible drought," Gunawan told a press conference.

The remaining areas of the country would experience normal dry seasons, he said.

BMG made its predictions in consultation with the National Aeronautical and Space Institute (LAPAN) and other relevant ministries.

Mezak A Rataq, head of climate affairs at LAPAN, said a mild El Nino would continue to hit the country, but its impact would be minimized by the presence of the "dipole mode" warm water phenomenon in the Indian Ocean near Sumatra.

"The dipole mode phenomenon brings rain to Sumatra and many other areas in Indonesia," he said.

Indonesia has been hit by drought and forest fires in the dry season and flooding and landslides in the rainy season for the last few years.

Drought and fires were triggered by El Nino, and worsened by illegal logging and land clearance through slash-and-burn methods.

Illegal logging and land clearance has also prompted a number of natural disasters in the rainy season.