More, and heavier, monsoon rains ahead

Keep your brolly handy - this coming monsoon season could be even wetter than normal.

The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said on Monday that in-house weather models have predicted that total rainfall this coming December and January could be 10 per cent to 20 per cent above average.

This could mean more thunderstorms and rainy days.

Singapore's north-east monsoon season wet phase typically occurs between mid-November and January. Historical records show average monthly rainfall during those months at between 240mm and 300mm, with rain falling over about half of each month.

The south-west monsoon between June and September generally brings less rain.

Singapore is currently facing a "neutral phase" between the extreme El Nino and La Nina climate phenomena, said MSS senior meteorological officer Chow Kwok Wah.

Rainfall this time "may be comparable" to last year's north-east monsoon when similar conditions prevailed, he added. Then, a total of 572mm of rain fell in November and December, above the historical average of 554mm.

The La Nina phenomenon, a cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean that occurs every three to four years, can bring heavier rainfall to South-east Asia.

Flash flood along Chai Chee Road

Heavy rain causes flash floods in several parts of S'pore

With flood risks in mind, national water agency PUB has stepped up drainage maintenance efforts from once to three times a week. It will also inspect 100 construction sites to ensure nearby drains remain obstacle-free.

Longer-term, it is planning to improve drainage at 36 new locations, including eastern areas like Chai Chee Road and MacPherson Road, which were flooded this year. This adds to 176 drainage improvement works in progress.

Last month, flash floods hit western Singapore, temporarily shutting down the Ayer Rajah Expressway. On Monday, heavy showers caused flash flooding at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road, which was closed to traffic at one point.

PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong said the agency is doing all it can to prepare for heavy rain. He added: "We are dealing with nature, which is a powerful force. Despite our best efforts, it is not possible for us to eliminate flash floods."

Businesses are also getting prepared. Italian restaurant Pasta Fresca da Salvatore, which experienced flooding outside its Bukit Timah premises in February, said it will rely on PUB flood alerts. If the flood poses any danger to customers and staff, it may close for the day.

At Rochester Mall, Pies & Coffee cafe manager Rizal Bahuri said: "Obviously I'm worried. If it floods, we won't make sales."

Heavy storms have become more frequent here over the last few decades. Preliminary findings by the National Environment Agency found global climate change may cause Singapore to become even hotter and wetter by the next century.

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