At last, heavy rain returns

SINGAPORE - The heavy rain that hit many parts of Singapore yesterday was greeted with unbridled joy by Singaporeans sick of the recent dry spell.

The National Environment Agency's (NEA's) three-hour Nowcast, which tracks rainfall patterns, showed thundery showers across the island. This followed light showers on Saturday.

On Facebook, one user called Melly Mel wrote: "All the plants are rejoicing in this rain. 'Finally some water,' they say!"

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean posted a photo of himself standing in the rain: "Yeah! It's pouring in Pasir Ris Park after our community run this morning. Nice to get wet!" The post had garnered more than 730 likes as of 10pm yesterday.

The rain also cleared the haze. As of 8pm, the 24-hour PSI was in the 20 to 31 range.

The NEA said the showers were heaviest in the eastern and southern parts of the island, which received the least rainfall during the dry spell.

Showers yesterday also affected parts of peninsular Malaysia and central Sumatra, including Riau province, and no hot spots were detected in those areas because of extensive cloud cover.

Thanks to "improved conditions", the air quality for today will be moderate, and Singaporeans can expect thundery showers in the late morning and afternoon over the next few days.

The NEA had earlier said that more rainfall can be expected as Singapore heads into the inter-monsoon period. Even so, total rainfall for this month is likely to be below the March long-term average of 185.9mm.

Local weather researcher Winston Chow said the fluctuating weather conditions are not likely to continue, given Singapore's climate for this time of the year, as the weather context for the next few months is "favourable for humid, cloudy, and possibly rainy conditions, especially in the afternoons".

The dry spell started in mid-January, with February setting the record for being the driest month in Singapore since 1869.

National water agency PUB has been topping up Singapore's 17 reservoirs with Newater since January. Yesterday's rain "helped to increase water levels in our reservoirs slightly", said Mr George Madhavan, director of PUB's 3P Network. Although "some rain has returned", the public should continue to conserve water, he added.

A National Parks Board spokesman said the rain is "a welcomed respite and will help our plants recover".

For owners of local farm businesses such as Eden Garden Farm's Chan Yow Tiong, 63, the rain was a heartening sign, and one that was much welcomed. "My pond was about to dry up," said Mr Chan, who waters the vegetables in his farm with pondwater.

Other farmers including Mr Soh Chau Hian, 68, pointed out that yesterday's rain alone would not be enough to offset the parching effects of the dry spell. "The soil is still very dry," he said.

Additional reporting by Goh Wei Hao

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