SINGAPORE - Violent gusts of wind during an early-morning storm yesterday downed trees, knocked tiles off roofs and caused fish farms to drift from their moorings.
The effects were felt from Pasir Panjang to Pulau Ubin as branches fell on cars, trees fell and caused jams.
Commuting to work in Chinatown from her Pasir Panjang home yesterday morning, lawyer Anamika Bagchi, 30, found the way blocked by fallen trees not once but twice - on South Buona Vista Road and near Tanglin.
"It took me an hour to get to work instead of the usual 15 minutes," she said.
There were about 10 cases of obstruction on roads here due to yesterday's storm, the Land Transport Authority said.
Magazine writer Rachel Tan, 26, who lives off Tanglin Road, said: "I woke to a shocking view on my balcony, with overturned furniture and tall potted plants that were knocked over - like a typhoon had just stopped by."
The widespread destruction was caused by a Sumatra squall between 2.15am and 3.30am that brought rain and gusty winds to many parts of the island, said the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS).
The highest wind speed recorded during the storm was 103.7kmh, near West Coast Highway. The highest wind speed recorded here was 144.4kmh on April 25, 1984, the MSS said.
Sumatra squalls are common during the south-west monsoon season, typically lasting from June to September or early October. "For the next fortnight, we can expect a few days of short-duration afternoon showers with one to two Sumatra squalls," an MSS spokesman said.
Yesterday's storm is unlikely to be linked to the El Nino weather phenomenon, said National University of Singapore weather researcher Winston Chow.
Rather, such strong gusts are caused by extremely strong pressure changes along the leading edge of the storm.
"Air from the surface gets thrust upwards, then pushed down rapidly, due to density differences between air parcels in the storm. The damage occurs primarily from these very strong downdrafts which are seen as short-lived but powerful gusts at the surface," he said.
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