World Meteorological Day: Craziest Extreme Weather Recorded In Singapore
STORY: Ng Kai
23 March 2021
Singapore may be well-known for being the tropical city-state with only one sunny season all year-long. But this Little Red Dot that lies one degree north of the equator has had some pretty far-out weather moments, including fogs, hailstones and even “tornados”. (We did kick off 2021 with the highest rainfall ever recorded on this island!)
To commemorate World Meteorological Day (23 March), a day that commemorates the coming into force of the Convention establishing the World Meteorological Organization on 23 March 1950, here's a list of the maddest meteorological moments ever recorded in Singapore.
Outlook: crazy AF.
Highest rainfall ever recorded
Guess you could say that on this day, everyone had to use an umbrella so they all seemed a little under the weather. Puns aside, this day seriously had a lot of rain. Rainfall was recorded to be among the highest seen by the republic in 39 years. The Public Utilities Board (PUB) observed that on 2 Jan 2021, the highest total amount of rainfall recorded in Changi was 318.6mm. Let’s compare that to the average monthly rainfall for the entire month of January (238.3mm), and you can see just how much (more) rain poured form the skies that soaked Saturday.
Fog and mist
People went around on this day trying to catch some fog, but they all mist. In September 2020, rain fell for three continuous days the weekend of 12 to 14 September. Temperatures averaged 25°C; the heavy rain caused fog to descend upon various locations in Singapore. Everyone excitedly snapped photos to post on social media because cool AF.
Siao eh, Singapore not hot enough meh? In April 2016, Singapore recorded its highest temperature in a decade as temperatures soared to 36.7°C. Basic Physics teaches heat transfers from higher to lower temperatures – so imagine your body temperature being the same or lower than the environment. Sibei hot and sweaty. Also, this temperature was just shy of the highest daily maximum temperature ever recorded here, which was 37°C in Tengah on April 17, 1983. Babies born in April must be really hot.
Sometimes Lady Luck is on our side, because we do get cool weather – so cool that Singaporeans can actually put on Uniqlo Heattech. Without aircon. On 14 February 1989, the climate station at Paya Lebar recorded Singapore’s coldest temperature on record: a relatively chilly 19°C. That’s almost half the highest temperature recorded and the closest we’ll get to winter-like weather – Singapore’s temperatures like, got mood swings sia.
In 2013, many Singaporeans must have thought they were either dreaming or hallucinating. Hailstones rained down as if an apocalyptic disaster befell Singapore, with trees uprooted and traffic disrupted. The meteorological anomaly occurred mostly in the West - in the Jurong and Bukit Batok areas - and lasted about 30 minutes. Fun fact: Instances of hail had been recorded in Singapore before this - in 2009, 2014 and 2018, according to the Singapore Meteorological Services.
The skies definitely looked super scary on this day as ominous “tornados” were spotted in the sea off East Coast back in August 2016. No lah, these “tornados” are known as giant waterspouts and according to the National Environment Agency (NEA), an average of three instances of waterspouts are reported over Singapore waters yearly. They might look deadly and frightening but most of them are harmless. Usually they weaken and disappear even before reaching the shore.
Want to be, ahem, blown away by more weather phenomena recorded in Singapore? Check out our piece on "5 Times The Sky In Singapore Made Us Go "Wow!" In 2020".