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ST Article on the 25 May 2007 Waterspout

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The Straits Times

May 26, 2007

A towering sight off the east coast

By Andrea Ong

THOUSANDS of people from the city centre to Changi were transfixed yesterday afternoon as a large water spout appeared off the east coast.

The water funnel rose majestically from the sea, and sent people scrambling for their cameras and cellphones.

In fact, the water spout broke all previous records for reader reaction at The Straits Times' online portal Stomp, with 150 SMSes, MMSes and e-mails streaming in within 10 minutes.

In all, Stomp received more than 500 images and videos from readers, who used various terms to describe the phenomenon: a tornado, cyclone, hurricane and even 'a finger of God'.

The spout was large enough to be spotted from Marina Bay, Shenton Way, Kallang, Bedok, the East Coast and even at Changi.

Staff at Equinox Restaurant - atop the 226m-tall Swissotel The Stamford hotel - were amazed by its size.

Its manager, Mr Mutto Kawary, 30, said the huge column seemed like it was more than twice the hotel's height.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement that the spout appeared at about 2.30pm off Marine Parade and lasted about 30 minutes.

Mr Benjamin Li, 24, said he saw an aircraft in its vicinity and feared for the plane's safety. The account executive was in his 31st-storey office in Springleaf Tower in Anson Road.

'Everyone went quiet,' he said. The plane emerged unscathed.

Water spouts appear when a type of cloud, cumuliform, forms during thunderstorms, creating low-pressure pockets. A column of water is then sucked up towards the base of the cloud.

The NEA said water spouts are common in tropical waters and there are usually one or two sightings off Singapore in a year. The last spout was seen in August last year.

Spouts seem to dissipate fairly quickly. While they can pose a threat to small boats in the water, they usually weaken and vanish when they come nearer to shore.

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