Malaysia: High waves hit northern states after supermoon

ROYCE TAN The Star 14 Jul 14;

GEORGE TOWN: Septuagenarian Tee Ah Ghim watched in fear as waves hit the walls of her squatter house at Pantai Bersih in Bagan Ajam.

The 70-year-old retiree, who has been living there for more than five years with her younger sister, in her 60s, is fearful of the recurrence of an incident in 2010 where strong tidal waves swept away fishing boats and damaged property there.

“I hope that the high tide will recede soon. If the waves hit any higher, most of our things will be damaged and we won’t have any other place to live,” said Tee as she stared solemnly out of her window.

The southwesterly winds travelling between 40kph and 50kph, whipped up waves up to 3.5m over the waters off Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Sarawak (Miri), Sabah (Kudat and West Coast) and Labuan yesterday.

The strong winds also sent waves crashing over the seawall at the Esplanade here.

Several popular seafront locations, such as Batu Ferringhi, also experien­ced rough seas and strong winds.

While many would try to avoid the splash, American tourist Rebekah Russell, 22, enjoyed getting soaked and even continued her stroll along the seafront alone.

She described the high waves as a rare thing and never experienced such a phenomenon before.

At the coastal road along Lebuhraya Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu near Teluk Kumbar, the high tide sent sea water seeping through the gaps and holes between the seawall, creating huge puddles of water on the road.

Traffic slowed to a crawl as motorists tried to avoid the water.

There was a lunar perigee on Saturday when the moon was closer to Earth than at any other time and appeared larger than usual. The phenomena is also referred to as “supermoon”.

During this time, the tidal force is stronger, causing higher tides than usual. High waves also occurred in Koh Samui (Thailand), Labuan, Straits of Malacca (north) and Sulu.

A check at the Meteorological Department’s website showed that strong northeasterly winds of 50kph to 60kph with waves up to 4.5m hit Layang Layang island off Sabah, Phuket in Thailand, Condore island off southern Vietnam and Palawan island in the Philippines.