MEDIA RELEASE

SMOKE HAZE SITUATION IN THE MEKONG SUB-REGION DETERIORATING UNDER PROLONGED DRY WEATHER 

Singapore, 12 April 2022 –The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) has issued Alert Level 3 for the Mekong sub-region on 11 April 2022, which signifies a deterioration in the smoke haze situation there under the prevailing dry weather conditions. This is the highest alert level of ASMC’s early warning system for the occurrence of transboundary smoke haze in the region.

2      Since the onset of the traditional dry season in the Mekong sub-region last December, there has been a gradual build-up of hotspot activities in the fire-prone areas. In recent days, there was a sharp increase in the number of hotspots detected in many parts of the subregion. On 10 April 2022, 2,031 hotspots were detected in the sub-region by the NOAA-20 satellite, of which 1,557 hotspots were in Lao PDR. Widespread moderate to dense smoke haze from land and forest fires was observed over many parts of the Mekong sub-region in the past few days. Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy air quality was also reported at many stations in the central and northern Mekong sub-region.

3 In the coming days, the prevailing low-level winds in the Mekong sub-region are forecast to remain light and variable in direction, which will inhibit the dispersion of the haze. The hotspot and smoke haze situation is likely to remain elevated for the rest of this week, and there is a high risk of transboundary haze affecting other parts of the Mekong subregion. Rain showers may return to some areas of the sub-region towards the end of the week. For the April 2022 to June 2022 period, near-to-above average rainfall is expected for many parts of the Mekong sub-region.  However, fire hotspots and smoke haze could still develop under extended periods of dry and warm weather during the traditional dry season which is expected to last till May 2022.

4 For regular and ad-hoc updates of the regional weather and smoke haze situation and early warnings, please visit the ASMC website at http://asmc.asean.org.

[1] The Mekong sub-region comprises Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.