Haze from Indonesia forest fires thinning out in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 October) — The haze from the forest fires in Indonesia that earlier blanketed this city and neighboring areas has thinned thinned out in the last two days due to the onset of northwest winds or “amihan.”

Dante Arriola, acting head of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration station here, said Monday the haze started to dissipate last Friday as the northwest winds intensified.

He said such phenomenon resulted to the clearing of the skies here and in nearby Koronadal City from the previous thick haze.

“It’s (haze) still there but already very thin and continually dissipating,” he told MindaNews.

Weather observers here first monitored the haze three weeks ago after being blown by southwest winds or “habagat” coming from Sumatra, Indonesia, where massive forest fires have been raging.

It initially dissipated after a few days but eventually returned after being sucked in by strong winds brought by typhoon Lando.

Last week, several flights at the city international airport were cancelled and diverted to Davao City due to poor runway visibility resulting from the haze.

“We expect the northwest winds to prevail until December so any haze coming from Indonesia may not stay long in our area,” Arriola said.

With the haze already dissipating, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Environmental Management Bureau in Region 12 said the air quality here and nearby Koronadal City has also returned to the normal level.

In Koronadal City, the level of fine particulate matters in the air at 2.5 micrometers and below in diameter or PM2.5 last week reached as high as 83 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncu.m), exceeding the standard 75 ug/Ncu.m.

PM2.5 are particles that are even smaller than hair strands and could result to serious health problems when breathed.

Maysheen Collong, EMB-12 information officer, said the PM2.5 level in Koronadal City has dropped to 46.433 ug/Ncu.m and in this city at 29.913 ug/Ncu.m as of Monday morning.

She said the PM2.5 levels in both areas significantly dropped starting Friday based on their monitoring.

EMB-12 has active ambient air monitoring systems installed at the Acharon Sports Complex here and at the city hall complex in Koronadal City.

“Our ambient air quality is now back to the normal level of particulates,” she added. (MindaNews)