Heavy winds send boats, bins flying at East Coast Park; fell tree at Marine Parade

Afifah Darke and Elizabeth Khor Channel NewsAsia 31 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE: Strong winds in the east of Singapore sent at least three boats flying at East Coast Park on Wednesday (Jan 31) afternoon, and felled a large tree that all but blocked Marine Parade Road.

The gusts tossed three Laser sailboats - each weighing about 70 kg - into the air at the National Sailing Centre, video of the incident showed.

The video, shot by a Channel NewsAsia reader who did not want to be named, also showed trees being battered by the intense wind.

He said it was already raining when he arrived at the centre for training at around 3.50pm.

"The wind suddenly picked up so my sailing team gathered to see what was going on," he told Channel NewsAsia. "Stuff just started flying everywhere - boats, equipment, etc - it was just chaos."

Calling it a "mini cyclone", he added that they were evacuated to a multi-purpose hall at about 4.10pm. Their teachers instructed them to call their parents to pick them up.

Another reader, Daniel Nganasekaran, sent video of a large wheelie rubbish bin being tossed around in the wind at East Coast Park.

A Singapore Sailing Federation spokesman said that the "strong gust of wind, together with a water spout" that came through the National Sailing Centre, left a trail of damage.

"It was fortunate that sailors were recalled as per standard operating procedure and waited under shelter when the Cat 1 siren was sounded earlier," he said, adding that everyone was safe and accounted for.

It was a "good reminder" to respect mother nature, the spokesman added.

TREE FALLS AT MARINE PARADE

Nearby, a large tree fell on Marine Parade Road, almost completely sealing it off.

Channel NewsAsia reader Kelly Zhong Higgins said that the tree toppled outside Neptune Court condominium, leaving the road towards Parkway Parade shopping centre completely blocked and only one lane open in the opposite direction.

Another reader, who wanted to be identified only as Aiden, told Channel NewsAsia he saw passers-by trying to clear the road at about 5.45pm.

At around 6.45pm, the Land Transport Authority confirmed that the road was closed.

The heavy rain on Wednesday also caused a footpath and bus stop at Ang Mo Kio to flood after a nearby drain overflowed.

It was the second consecutive day that storms had caused damage in Singapore. On Tuesday, storms in the northern part of the country felled trees and caused a flash flood, and took residents and businesses by surprise. Hailstones were also reported in Ang Mo Kio and Seletar amid heavy rain.

Additional reporting by Nigel Chin.

Source: CNA/ad/ek

Waterspout and strong winds blow away boats, dumpster at East Coast Park during stormy weather
Lydia Lam Straits Times 31 Jan 18;

SINGAPORE - Heavy rain fell across Singapore on Wednesday (Jan 31), with unusually strong winds sending a dumpster and even a few boats flying in the air at East Coast Park.

Videos circulating online show the fierce gusts blowing leaves and debris up into the air. At least three boats are seen being tossed into the air as well. The person taking the video exclaims and flees when the boats are blown in his direction.

A spokesman for the National Sailing Centre (NSC) confirmed with The Straits Times that it happened near the centre.

"A strong gust of wind together with a waterspout came through NSC and left a trail of damages this afternoon," said the spokesman. "It was fortunate that sailors were recalled as per standard operating procedure and waited under shelter when the siren was sounded earlier."

The spokesman added that its employees were on hand to assist and usher NSC visitors indoors and to sheltered areas.

"Everyone is accounted for and safe," said the spokesman. "This was a good reminder for why we need to respect Mother Nature, to stay under shelter during a storm or when the siren is sounded, and to always return our boats to the racks after sailing."

Another video sent in by an ST reader shows a large green dumpster being battered by strong winds at East Coast Park.

There were also reports of a tree which fell along Marine Parade Road, with bus services being diverted as a result.

The stormy weather also prompted national water agency PUB to issue high flood risk alerts for two areas. The first was issued for Tampines Road, which is a hot spot for flooding.

PUB had said on its social media accounts in an alert at 4.22pm that heavy rain was expected over many areas in Singapore from 4.50pm to 5.50pm.

According to the National Environment Agency's (NEA's) website, thunderstorms are expected across the island from 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

PUB issued a high flood risk alert for Tampines Road at 5.52pm. The water level in the measuring drains rose to 100 per cent before subsiding in a matter of minutes.

Tampines Road had been flooded across three lanes on Jan 8, along with eight other locations after a bout of unusually intense rain.

The area is a hot spot for flooding. PUB said in a previous statement after the Jan 8 floods that there are ongoing drainage improvement works to improve flood protection at the flooded areas.

PUB also issued a high flood risk alert for Arumugam Road in Ubi at 6.10pm.

Singapore is currently experiencing the north-east monsoon, which is expected to last till March.

On Tuesday, flash floods occurred at Seletar North Link. Hailstones reportedly fell in some areas in Singapore including Yishun and Seletar.

"We urge the public to exercise caution and avoid stepping into or driving into flooded areas," said PUB in a statement on Thursday's flooding. "During this period of monsoon season, the public should stay tuned to radio broadcast and check PUB's Facebook page or PUB's mobile app MyWaters for flood updates."


Waterspout brought strong winds to East Coast Park on Wednesday: Met Service
Channel NewsAsia 1 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE: The heavy winds that sent boats and dumpsters flying at East Coast Park on Wednesday (Jan 31) was caused by a waterspout, said the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) on Thursday.

A waterspout, a rotating column of winds associated with an intense thunderstorm, was observed over the sea off the east coast of Singapore at around 4.10pm, said the Met Service.

The waterspout weakened as it neared the coast but still brought strong winds to the East Coast Parkway area, it added.

The strongest wind gusts recorded from the nearest wind sensor in the area was 59.1km/h.

Stronger winds have been recorded there before. On Dec 7, 2014, the highest recorded wind gust in the East Coast Parkway area was 72.8km/h while the highest ever recorded wind gust in Singapore was 144.4km/h at Tengah on Apr 25, 1984, said the Met Service.

Weather radar images show the areas affected by intense thundery showers on Wednesday (Jan 31). (Images: NEA)
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MSS’ weather radar images showed towering thunderstorm (cumulonimbus) clouds developing around 4.10pm over the sea off the east coast of Singapore, it added.

These clouds reached 16km in height, far higher than the usual height of 10 to 12km.

The strong winds experienced in parts of south-eastern Singapore were due to "strong downdrafts" from the thunderstorm clouds, it said.

The atmospheric conditions which led to the intense thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday are not uncommon in the tropics, the Met Service added.

On Tuesday, hailstones were reported in the north of Singapore in areas such as Seletar and Ang Mo Kio.

The last sighting of a waterspout was on Jun 18, 2017, off the southeast coast of Singapore.

For the next few days, the weather is expected to be windy with passing showers.

Source: CNA/ad


Thunderstorm, gusty winds lash Singapore for a second day
ALFRED CHUA Today Online 1 Feb 18;

NParks picks up the pieces, businesses count the losses

SINGAPORE — For the second day in a row, gusty winds and thunderstorms pummeled parts of Singapore, even as some businesses hit by the previous day’s weather chaos were still picking up the pieces and counting the costs.

On Wednesday (Jan 31), wind speeds of up to 59.1km/h in the east sent boats from the National Sailing Centre (NSC) flying in the air.

Footage from a video that went viral on social media showed a few small boats being hurled into the air by strong winds at the East Coast training centre for national sailors.

Dumpsters were also said to have been sent flying at East Coast Park, and accounts on social media emerged of fallen trees near Marine Parade.

At about 4.30pm on Wednesday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) tweeted a heavy rain warning.

“Moderate to heavy thundery showers with gusty wind are expected over many areas of Singapore,” it said.

In a update on Wednesday's weather, the NEA said in a statement on Thursday that the strong winds experienced in parts of south-eastern Singapore were due to "strong downdrafts from thunderstorm clouds which reached heights of around 16km".

"Favourable atmospheric (wind, moisture, temperature) conditions led to the development of the intense thunderstorms yesterday and on Tuesday. Such conditions are not uncommon in the tropics," it added.

The NEA said a waterpout was also spotted at around 4.10pm over the sea off the east coast of Singapore.

"As the waterspout neared the coast, it weakened but still brought strong winds to the East Coast Parkway (ECP) area," said the agency.

Waterspouts typically have a life span of a few minutes to an hour, and tend to occur over the waters off southern Singapore.

At sea, they can produce wind gusts of up to 80km/h and "pose some risk to people and objects including small vessels nearby".

The last sighting of a waterspout was on June 18, 2017, off the southeast coast of Singapore.

According to the NEA, the strongest wind gusts recorded from the nearest wind sensor at ECP on Wednesday was 59.1km/h.

The highest recorded wind gust in the area was 72.8km/h on Dec 7, 2014.

Wednesday was also the second-straight day that Singapore was hit by torrential rain in the late afternoon.

On Tuesday, more than 60 trees were damaged after gusty winds and heavy rain swept through Seletar North Link. Flash floods and hail were reported in the Yishun area as well.

According to the Meteorological Services Singapore (MSS), the highest-recorded 30-minute rainfall on Tuesday was 46.6mm at 4.55pm, and the strongest-recorded wind gust was 70.9kmh at around 5.15pm in Sembawang.

The highest wind speed recorded historically was 144.4kmh, taken on April 25, 1984.

The National Parks Board (NParks) said it received reports of more than 200 tree incidents on Tuesday. These comprised mainly small trees and snapped branches, the NParks spokesperson said, noting that most were cleared by 8pm on Tuesday.

POST-FREAK STORM IN YISHUN, BUSINESSES COUNT THE COSTS

For businesses affected by Tuesday’s storm in northern Singapore, the inevitable job of cleaning up and tallying losses needed to be done.

At Hua Hng Trading Co, gusty winds racking up speeds of up to 70kmh and intense rainfall and hail on Tuesday evening caused potted plants to be blown off their racks and ornamental trees uprooted.

The nursery’s managing director Chua King Wah told TODAY that the team spent the whole night trying to salvage the plants, working well into the morning.

Mr Chua estimated around S$10,000 in losses from the damaged plants, which included the Celosia Plume, and tangerine shrubs — plants popular during Chinese New Year.

That was another concern looming for the nursery, which has been in the business for close to 30 years. Given that the Chinese New Year is fast approaching, Mr Chua said he is worried of a shortfall in supply,

Recounting the events of Wednesday evening, Mr Chua said the storm started like any normal storm did — wind, rainfall, thunder, and lightning.

Then came the abrupt — and swift — change in wind direction.

“The winds went from North-East, to South-West, and it started blowing very strongly. It was almost like a tornado swept in here,” he said.

There was no time to salvage the plants, said Mr Chua. His first priority was to get his customers into shelter.

Hua Hng was just one among the businesses along Bah Soon Pah Road near Yishun that were hit by Tuesday’s storm.

Mr Soh Wen Chong from vegetable farm Pacific Agro estimated that some 10 per cent of his cherry tomato crops were damaged by the storm.

It is still too early to see the effects of the storm on crop supply though, Mr Soh noted, as the current batch of crops have not borne fruit yet.

When TODAY visited the farm on Wednesday afternoon, workers could be seen doing repair works. One plot of cherry tomato crops was buried beneath a fallen shelter.

“I was devastated by the damage. If there is nothing to sell in two weeks’ time, then it would be bad news for Chinese New Year,” Mr Soh told TODAY.

Above: The aftermath of the damage cause by a thunderstorm on Tuesday (Jan 30) is seen at Oh' Farms on Bah Soon Pah Road, on Jan 31, 2018. Photo: Koh Mui Fong/TODAY

At hydroponics farm Oh’ Farms next door, it was a similar story of damage — greenhouse roofs blown off by strong winds, broken zinc roofs, and dislodged structures and pipes.

Supply will “definitely be affected” said Ms Ore Huiying, a freelance photographer who helps out at her family farm. It would take a while for the farm to tally up the losses, she added.

For the farms in Yishun, this was the first time damage of such an extent was wreaked. And it caught them off guard.

Shrugging his shoulders, Mr Chua said: “What precautions can we take? We have never seen such storms before, and don’t know when it would happen again.”

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