Flash floods and cold weather: What was wrong with Singapore last week?

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With temperatures expected to rise over 30 degrees by the end of the week, Singapore is officially coming to the end of her coolest spell in years.

Your reaction might be this:

Or maybe this:

…especially for moms hanging out clothes

But regardless of how you feel, low temperatures in Singapore are not all that uncommon. Temperatures have reached lows of 20.1 deg C in 2014 and 20.0 deg C in 2013, with the lowest temperature recorded being 19 deg C in 1989.

Yes, it has been colder before

However, an extended cold spell accompanied by severe flash floods was unprecedented here in our usually tropical, equatorial climate. So what happened?

“Monsoon season” is a term we often throw around casually, quite often not exactly understanding what it means. Singapore actually experiences multiple different monsoon seasons every year, but the one that affects us most prominently (and this time as well!) is the Northeast Monsoon.

The Northeast Monsoon’s wet phase usually lasts from December to mid-January, and is characterised by widespread continuous heavy rain and strong winds. However, the monsoon this time was accompanied by an unusually high frequency of Monsoon surges, which are strong wind episodes from the South China Sea.

Basically, a crazy amount of wind and rain. Muchhh more than usual.

which led to this:

S’poreans demonstrating good balancing skills

And this:

poor lamppost…and cars

Why exactly were there so many monsoon surges? Well, there are many different explanations, but if you look slightly further back, you might remember that October 2017 was a pretty warm month, even during nighttimes. In fact, the highest recorded temperature in October went over 35 deg C. With the climate drastically changing at an exponential rate, such weather phenomenon might become increasingly commonplace in the future.


But for now, it’s back to good ol’ tropical Singapore.

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