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Singapore’s first recorded landspout, hazy skies and monsoon rains: 3 notable weather events of 2019

Singapore’s first recorded landspout, hazy skies and monsoon rains: 3 notable weather events of 2019

Haze in central Singapore. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: On Thursday (Jan 16), the Meterological Service (MSS) announced that 2019 was the joint warmest year on record for Singapore, with an annual mean temperature of 28.4 degrees Celsius, a record set in 2016. 

As well as a record-equalling mean temperature, 2019 saw a number of other notable weather events that made Singaporeans look up to the skies. 


Singapore’s air quality was affected for several days in September 2019 by haze from persistent land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan. 

The 24-hour Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) fell within the high end of the Moderate and Unhealthy ranges, peaking at 154 in southern Singapore on Sep 19, the highest level for the year. 

READ: Haze hits unhealthy levels in Singapore as PSI exceeds 100 for the first time in 3 years

According to MSS, fires in the region escalated due to significantly drier conditions in southern Southeast Asia during the Southwest Monsoon season between June and September. 

A prevailing positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) event from the middle of the year could’ve caused these conditions, along with the intrusion of a dry air mass from high-pressure systems over the Australian continent, said MSS. 

The weather extremes that happened in Singapore in 2019. (Source: National Environment Agency)


Singapore’s first recorded landspout was spotted in southwestern Singapore on Sep 27. With videos of flying debris and roofs being damaged in Gul Way making their rounds on social media, many Singaporeans were shocked to see it, with some people wondering if a hurricane had struck.

A landspout is a rotating column of air over land that stretches vertically to a developing cumulonimbus cloud over it, said MSS. 

READ: Singapore's first recorded landspout damages roofs in Tuas

Similar to a waterspout that develops over a water body, it is caused by the development of an intense thunderstorm under unstable atmospheric conditions, and usually has a life span of several minutes, and weakens quickly when the thunderstorm matures or dissipates.

At the time, MSS said that the landspout was caused by a thunderstorm that developed over the waters off Tuas. 

"When the thunderstorm moved inland at around 11am, the moist air feeding into the intensifying storm resulted in a rotating column of winds over Gul Way around the Tuas area," said MSS.


Many people will recall the week of heavy showers in the first half of December 2019. 

A Northeast Monsoon surge brought periods of rain and cooler weather over many parts of the island, affecting businesses and laundry schedules. 

READ: Wet weather woes for small businesses with rainy days set to continue

Singaporeans enjoyed cooler temperatures, ranging between 26.5 to 29.9 degrees Celsius on almost all days, with the daily minimum temperature hitting a low on Dec 11 at 22 degrees Celsius, said MSS. 

According to MSS, it was the longest monsoon surge Singapore has seen in 10 years, lasting about seven days. Widespread rain fell continuously across the country over the Dec 13 weekend, before dissipating on the evening of Dec 15. 

Source: CNA/hw


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