El Niño Could Deal Severe Heat and Drought, Meteorologist Warns

By Tin Htet Paing 5 January 2016

RANGOON — Severe heat and drought may strike Burma during the current El Niño weather pattern, a leading meteorologist has warned, predicting that the first six months of the current year could be the most extreme of the 12 to 18 month cycle.

Tun Lwin, Burma’s foremost weather expert, said the forthcoming effects of the oscillation are likely to be worse than they were in the previous year, according to statements published in state media on Tuesday.

The heightened severity could be attributable to a rise in coal-fired power and deforestation, Tun Lwin told Burmese daily The Mirror, urging the government to revise regulations that allow those industries to grow rapidly.

When contacted by The Irrawaddy on Tuesday, Tun Lwin said the government needs to make environmental protection and disaster preparedness urgent priorities in the months to come.

“The government must prepare sufficient water supply in case of a drought, and healthcare for those who may suffer from the severe heat,” he said.

“Relevant ministries must prepare on their own initiative for the sake of the public and the farmers.”

Those living in central Burma should take extra precaution, he advised, as the central plain was already devastated by severe floods last year.

Tun Lwin served in Burma’s Ministry of Meteorology and Hydrology for more than 30 years, including as its director general. Even after his retirement, he has remained Burma’s most trusted weather forecaster.

In 2009, Tun Lwin founded the non-governmental organization Myanmar Climate Change Watch.