Dec 20, 2006
24 hours of rain mayhem
Floods and landslides hit island
Fallen trees hold up traffic
SINGAPORE was lashed by the third-largest deluge of rain in recorded history yesterday, causing heavy flooding in parts of the island, bringing down trees and triggering landslides.
The rain was most intense over the northern and central parts of the island, where flooding affected at least four locations.
Vehicles were diverted from several traffic junctions, which had been rendered impassable by the rising waters.
Off Olive Road, the water was waist-deep, submerging nurseries along Thomson Road and paralysing cars, vans and lorries.
According to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), there was 'spillage' at the nearby MacRitchie Reservoir and at Upper Seletar Reservoir.
Landslides were reported in two places: along Mandai Road and Bukit Batok West Avenue 2.
High water was not the only reason for the traffic woes.
A tree fell along Alexandra Road opposite Ikea, blocking three lanes.
On Monday night, a tall tree had toppled and smashed through the windows of four flats at a housing block in Joo Seng Road and also damaging a concrete window ledge. Yesterday, Marine Parade Town Council said it was unsure whether the tree had been struck by lightning or had fallen due to strong winds during the thunderstorm. It is deciding whether to remove three other trees on the same slope.
Aside from the havoc and damage to property, at press time there were no official reports of any deaths or injuries resulting from the rain.
The only accidents so far have been minor, resulting from mishaps such as people falling into submerged drains.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force said it had been called in to rescue three employees from an office building along Upper Thomson Road yesterday afternoon, after the flood prevented them from opening a main gate. Firefighters had to cut a hole in the side fence to let them out.
PUB said yesterday's rainfall was the third-highest recorded in Singapore in the last 75 years. Over a 20-hour period until 8 pm, the highest total rainfall was 345mm, recorded in Yio Chu Kang. This figure far surpasses the entire monthly average for December, which is 284.4mm.
The highest rainfall recorded in Singapore over 24 hours was 512.4mm in 1978, which resulted in the worst flooding in recent history. The second highest was 467mm, in 1969.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said the heavy rain was caused by the north-east monsoon, which started in early December. During the season, there are sudden surges in the north-east winds, which carry a lot of moisture. They usually last two to seven days.
When heavy rain coincides with high tide, flash floods can result in low-lying areas. The water level in drains and canals becomes so high that the water cannot be drained off quickly enough, causing floods to occur. This is what happened at a kampung in low-lying Lorong Buangkok yesterday.
Water started rising around the wooden home of 60-year-old housewife Habsah Rohe at around dawn. She frantically took her carpets off the floor and dumped her laundry on her bed.
Within two hours, the water was up to her knees.
'What a back-breaking task scooping water out of the house,' she said with a sigh. She may have to get used to it. Wet weather with occasional heavy showers is expected for the rest of the week.
The NEA's meteorological services division says the wet spell is expected to improve gradually.