Pre-dawn storms hit commuters hard

Many end up late for work; more showers likely over next two weeks
Jermyn Chow And Christopher Tan Straits Times 18 Apr 13;

PRE-DAWN thunderstorms and gusty winds rattled most parts of Singapore yesterday, disrupting traffic and causing a morning peak-hour crush on the rail network.

There were reports of flash floods in parts of the island, fallen trees and traffic snarls on all major roads and expressways.

The violent thunderstorm, known as a Sumatra squall, which lasted about six hours, uprooted 15 trees and snapped the branches of 25 others, said the National Parks Board.

The heavy rain eased only after 8am. At least one car was damaged.

All fallen trees were cleared within an hour of being reported, said Mr Oh Cheow Sheng, National Parks Board Streetscape Director. Affected areas included Geylang, Tampines, Mount Faber, Whampoa and Holland, he added.

The weather woes also clogged up most expressways and major roads. Commuter alerts on the Land Transport Authority's Twitter account reported at least 15 accidents.

The rain and the usual morning rush hour contributed to another crush on the MRT network.

At Jurong East interchange, overcrowding on the platform was so bad that marshals stood by as helpless as commuters. The noise drowned out station announcements, leading to some confusion among those waiting.

Bukit Gombak resident and equity broker Manoj Kumar, 42, said: "It's so confusing and frustrating. The trains are coming, but at very long intervals."

He said he had to wait for some 15 minutes - instead of the usual three minutes - before getting onto a train, only to have it stop several times on the track.

"From Jurong to Clementi, it stopped three times on the track," Mr Kumar said.

When contacted, an SMRT spokesman said the hold-up was caused by the usual morning congestion as well as the rain. Because of the latter, the tracks were wet, and train drivers had to go slower as the lower friction could lead to longer braking distances.

Hit by the delays on the roads and trains, thousands of commuters showed up for work late.

Among them was accountant Tricia Lee, who made it to her workplace in Raffles Place by train, arriving nearly an hour late.

Said the 28-year-old who lives in Khatib: "I've not encountered such crowds in a very long time... the trains were so packed and bodies were pressing against each other.

"I should have worked from home."

Sumatra squalls are eastward-moving lines of thunderstorms that whip up strong, gusty winds and heavy rain.

They can develop at any time of the year and happen regularly between April and October.

April is likely to be wet, with above-average rainfall expected. This time of the year is usually the transitional period between the north-east and south-west monsoons.

For the next fortnight, Singapore is expected to have mostly short, thundery showers in the afternoon on five to six days.

Widespread showers with gusty winds are likely in the pre-dawn hours and mornings on one to two days.

Bank officer Jean Lai, 28, who takes a train from Bishan to Orchard, said she might leave her house 15 minutes earlier just so she can make it to work in time.

"Even if trains are going to move slower or are delayed, I still have some buffer and hopefully I can avoid the crowds too."

Related post
Stormy shores: The Sumatras on the wild shores of singapore blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment