Bali has been battling against ranging wildfires and landfill fires for weeks. As many areas of the island are officially in drought, the Acting Governor of the province has declared a 14-day emergency.
Over the weekend and into Monday 23rd October thick fog has descended over the island’s busiest tourist resorts.
From Kuta through to Canggu and especially throughout the western edge of the Bukit Peninsula around the resort areas of Uluwatu, the thick rolling fog has shrouded the landscape.
In Canggu where tourists would typically be able to see Uluwatu from across the ocean, the iconic cliffs have entirely disappeared from view.
In some parts of Badung and Klungkung Regencies visibility has been as low as three meters as changing atmospheric pressures move over the resorts.
A spokesperson for the Denpasar office of the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency, Ni Kadek Setiya Wati, explained “It’s possible that this is advection fog.”
The BMKG has stated that although air pollution from the fires at Suwung TPA and Mandung TPA landfills has impacted air quality, this fog is due to the warm weather front, rather than rolling smoke from the fires.
One is certainly impacting the other. Advection Fog is described as fog that forms when moist, warm air passes over a cooler surface which recurs the temperature of the warm air.
This is most common when a warm weather front passes over a snowy region. It is also seen frequently in tropical regions such as Bali when most air travels over cool waters.
If the wind is being blown in an inland direction, then it is also possible for sea fog to be pushed over land masses.
This is why the fog has been most noticeable in the southern beach resorts in Bali, especially Uluwatu, which sits at a higher elevation and right on the coast.
Beaches worst affected by the fog over the weekend and into Monday were Melasti Beach and the surrounding coves in Uluwatu as well as Kelingking Beach and clifftop viewpoints in Nusa Pendia.
One tour guide based in Nusa Penida told reporters that his guests could not enjoy the famous views from the clifftops of the island over the weekend and that visibility became dangerously low.
Kadek Murdiana reported “as the evening went on the fog became thicker and visibility was very limited, so that people in front only by three meters could not be seen. I thought it was raining but apparently not.”
Despite the moist feeling of the fog, there is very little precipitation that could fall from the clouds. Fog is comprised of tiny droplets of water, which amount to roughly 0.5ml of water per cubic meter.
This means that even if an Olympic-sized swimming pool was filled with fog and then condensed, there would only be roughly 1.25 liters of water remaining.
Setiya told reporters, “Each region has different atmospheric conditions. And [right now] the atmospheric conditions are very unstable. They are not the same as one another.”
The weather forecaster explained “If you monitor [this fog] directly you can be sure whether it is smoke haze or not. Smoke haze is usually accompanied by burning and a pungent smell.’’
Something that communities across Denpasar and the southern resorts of Badung Regency have been all too aware of over the last 10 days.
The weather forecasts suggest this week Bali will see more fog in the southern resorts. It will likely roll into the land in waves, lasting between and few minutes to a few hours, clearing a little and thickening up again.
Fires at the Suwung TPA landfill remain smoldering, as is the case over at the Mandung TPA landfill in Tabanan Regency.
While collective prayers for rain are being sent out across the island and disaster management teams are waiting for the rain-seeding equipment to be sent to the island from other provinces in Indonesia, impactful rains may not arrive on the island until the end of the year at the earliest.
Tourists in Bali planning day trips and adventures this week may want to take the fog into account when planning visits to enjoy ocean views and natural landscapes, as visibility will fluctuate.
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