Update : Please read the advisory from National Parks Board “Public should exercise caution and refrain from visiting parks and nature reserves during stormy weather“. Apparently 13 trees near Changi Beach Park were uprooted due to gusty winds during the thunderstorm during the weekends. Please check the latest weather forecast before going out. Refer to NEA’s weather forecast hotline at 6542 7788, website ( http://www.nea.gov.sg), mobile weather service (Weather@SG – weather.nea.gov.sg) or Twitter via @NEAsg.
If you are heading outdoors to the nature parks and any outdoor settings – check the weather forecast before you leave. For Singapore weather forecast, check out NEA Website. Another alternative – Wunderground.
Singapore is in the midst of the Inter-Monsoon season with mostly short-duration afternoon thundery showers. Morning thunderstorms are not spared. Rain, thunder and lightning are prevalent during these times. For more information, refer to the Monsoon Update.
Too many times for the past few weeks, I was caught in one of those thunderstorm while outdoors cycling the North Eastern Riverine Loop (NERL). Weather patterns can change drastically and forecasts are not always accurate. Thunderstorm warning signboards along this route are there for a reason. The NERL is one of the most scenic Park Connector Network (PCN) in Singapore. I believe it is also one of the most hazarded areas during thunderstorms as everywhere there is water. Water is a great conductor for electricity and lightning storms are occuring almost everyday along these region nowadays.
How to spot when a lighting thunderstorm is imminent? See pictures below on the progression of thunderstorm clouds called cumulonimbus.
6.13pm – Three columns of cumulonimbus clouds over Punggol Waterway
6.24pm – Cumulonimbus clouds towering above Lorong Halus Wetland
6.38pm – All three cumulonimbus clouds seem to merge
6.43pm – Embracing cumulonimbus clouds with a small gap in the middle
6.49pm – Merged cumulonimbus at its mature stage – lightning started to appear then
Do you see how fast the thunderstorm clouds change within a space of 36 minutes? If you see these cauliflower shape clouds in the distance, best to seek shelter immediately. Nobody can outrun a storm, much less lightning.
The last reported lightning incident was in November 2011 when two guys were hit by lighting at Coney Island (formerly Pulau Serangoon). One survived, the other did not. Let’s not be one of the statistics.
I still see parents and grandparents pushing the pram along this route while a lightning thunderstorm rumbles. Maybe they think since there is no rain, it is still safe. NO – it is not safe! The storm clouds may look far away but lighting can travel many kilometers away. Even if it is not raining, a bolt of “out of the blue” lightning can still occur.
My advice – avoid crossing all the bridges along Punggol Waterway or even the red bridge heading to Lorong Halus Wetland during the thunderstorms. There is no shelter on the bridges and they can be counted as some of the highest elevation among the surroundings.
The red toilets along Punggol Promenade (though looking metallic) can accommodate more people than the small shelters along the waterway. If you are already there on the riverside of Lorong Halus Wetland, there is a shelter as well. The shell-like shelters along the Nature Walk section of Punggol Promenade are made of aluminium and are not much protection in severe storms.
At Punggol Beach, there is shelter underneath the Viewing Gallery at the Jetty, bus stop, toilet, a small shelter (usually used by anglers) somewhere in the middle distance between Punggol Jetty and the Marina Country Club and then there is the Marina Country Club.
Along Punggol Waterway, there are small shelters and underneath the road highways. The PCN tracks next to Punggol Reservoir and Serangoon Reservoir have small shelters as well.
Take heed, be safe and please be careful.
What to do if caught in a thunderstorm outdoors?
– seek shelter in a covered building, vehicles
– if no shelter outdoors, go to the lowest elevation, crouch down on the balls of your feet with heels touching, hands on knees/calfs, head down
– do not lie down on the ground, sit under a tree or stand near tall objects like street lamps, touch metallic objects like fences and railings
– if in swimming pool, open field or water, get out immediately
– avoid riding a bicycle, motorcycle or golf cart
– remove all metallic accessories
– if on an open area with groups of people, spread out
– even when the storm stops, wait another 30 minutes since the last sound of thunder
What to do if a person is struck by lighting? First 4 Minutes are Crucial
– it is ok to touch a person struck by lightning, there is no electrical charge left
– call the doctor or ambulance immediately
– while reports said it is safe to use a mobile phone, I am not too sure, best avoid using the house phone during a lightning storm
– remove the victim from immediate danger zone (eg open field), if possible
– perform CPR if victim is not breathing
Thunderstorms and Lightning (www.nea.gov.sg)
Lightning: the scariest thing on the shores (wildshores.blogspot.com)
Angler was killed by lightning strike on Coney Island: Coroner (www.straitstimes.com)
Lightning strike left canoeist brain dead (www.straitstimes.com)
Man struck by lightning while playing golf (news.asiaone.com)
The Lightning Capital (http://www.rappler.com)