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Sept-Oct 2009

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Weatherscapes: Peninsular Malaysia: The Heart of Southeast Asia

We have just one season—hot and wet!” stated my taxi driver, Mr. Loh, as a thunderhead unleashed a torrent of lightning and rain over the Petronas Towers and surrounding streets and buildings in downtown Kuala Lumpur. At just a few degrees north of the equator, Mr. Loh’s glib climatic overview of Peninsular Malaysia, as anecdotal as it may be, was right on the mark.

The only real seasonal variations in Peninsular Malaysia come with two distinct monsoon winds, the northeast and the southwest, interposed by relative windless days that make the blasting equatorial sun that much more formidable, especially to those unaccustomed to the region’s climate. A glance at weather statistics reveal a nearly flat line of temperature throughout the year for any given location (the interior highlands of Peninsular Malaysia, although much lower than those of East Malaysia, provide some relief from the heat, but not from the humidity). With the seasonal shifts of monsoon winds come two distinct peaks of heavy rainfall, although the region experiences rain—almost exclusively from thunderstorms—throughout the year.

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