Weather in 2019: One of Singapore's hottest years, first landspout seen

With four of the past five years being among the 10 warmest years, the 2010-2019 period was also the hottest decade Singapore has seen since records began in 1929. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Last year was one of the hottest years on record for Singapore, with an annual mean temperature of 28.4 deg C.

This was on par with 2016 and 0.9 deg C higher than the annual average temperature from 1981 to 2010, said the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) in a news release on Thursday (16 January).

With four of the past five years being among the 10 warmest years, the 2010-2019 period was also the hottest decade Singapore has seen since records began in 1929.

“The mean temperature for the last 10 years from 2010 to 2019 was 27.94 deg C, surpassing the previous warmest decade (27.89 deg C from 2009 to 2018),” said MSS.

MSS noted that above-average temperatures were recorded for every month last year, with record-breaking temperatures seen in August (29.1 deg C) and September (29 deg C).

The hottest day last year was 17 April, which saw the mercury reaching 36.4 deg C. Meanwhile, 11 March, 3 July as well as 29 and 30 September saw the coldest nights last year with a temperature of 21.1 deg C.

(GRPAHIC: MSS)

2019 a ‘particularly dry’ year

Last year was also particularly dry, with the annual total rainfall below average over most of the island. At the Changi climate station, the rainfall recorded was 1368mm – 37 per cent below the 1981-2010 long-term average.

This made 2019 the third driest year, after 1997 and 2015, since rainfall records commenced in 1896, said MSS.

The driest periods last year were from January to March and July to September, during which the monthly rainfall was over 40 per cent below normal. The period of 31 July to 16 August also saw Singapore’s first dry spell in more than five years.

These warmer and drier conditions were attributed to the development of one of the strongest, positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) events since the 1960s.

“A positive IOD typically contributes to drier, and consequently warmer, conditions over Singapore and the nearby region during the Southwest Monsoon season (June – September),” said the MSS.

“Thus, the development of this IOD event since the middle of 2019 contributed significantly to the below-average rainfall and higher temperatures observed, especially during the third quarter.”

Screenshot from a video posted on social media showing a landspout ripping the roof off a building in Tuas on 27 September 2019.

Other weather phenomenons

MSS also noted that Singapore was affected last year by transboundary haze over several days in September due to land and forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The fires were escalated by the drier than normal conditions over southern South-east Asia that were attributed to the prevailing IOD event.

Singapore also recorded its first landspout – an overland vertical, rotating column of air that stretches up to the clouds – on 27 September.

“On that morning, the presence of moist air from the surrounding sea areas and localised convergence of winds over the southern and western coasts of Singapore were conducive for the development of intense thunderstorm clouds over the southwestern part of Singapore,” said MSS, noting that the strong winds ripped off parts of a Tuas factory building’s roof.

In the first two weeks of December, Singapore also experienced an extended period of cool, cloudy and windy conditions with heavy showers between 9 and 15 December. Rain fell over a widespread area continuously from 13 until 15 December.

The windy and rainy weather was due to a North-east Monsoon surge over the equatorial South China Sea region. Lasting some seven days, it was the longest North-east Monsoon surge episode affecting Singapore in the past decade.

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