Rain returns to Singapore in the west

Above: File photo for illustration purposes only

Rain has returned to Singapore and the Land Transport Authority even reported a flash flood on the PIE towards Tuas at the AYE exit on Monday evening.

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Malaysia, Singapore grapple with prolonged dry spell

Reuters, Feb 26, 2014

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Malaysia are grappling with some of the driest weather they have ever seen, forcing the tiny city-state to ramp up supplies of recycled water while its neighbour rations reserves amid disruptions to farming and fisheries.

Singapore, which experiences tropical downpours on most days, suffered its longest dry spell on record between Jan 13 and Feb 8 and has had little rain since.

Shares in Hyflux Ltd, which operates desalination and water recycling operations there, have risen 3.5 pct over the past month.

In peninsular Malaysia, 15 areas have not had rainfall in more than 20 days, with some of them dry for more than a month, according to the Malaysian Meteorological Department.

The dry spell in the Southeast Asian neighbours is expected to run for another two weeks, forecasters say.

The Indonesian province of Riau has also been hit, with part of the region wreathed in smog, usually caused by farmers setting fires to illegally clear land. Poor visibility has disrupted flights to and from the airport in Pekanbaru.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak was due to discuss the drought at a regular cabinet meeting on Wednesday that would decide whether to declare a national emergency, according to state news agency Bernama.

While some dry weather is expected at this time of year, the abnormal lack of rain is raising concerns about the pace of climate change in the region.

"The concern is that these uncommon weather events may be happening more frequently sooner rather than later," said National University of Singapore weather researcher Winston Chow.

Palm oil prices hit

Malaysia is the world's second-largest producer of palm oil and planters say dry weather lasting more than two months can hurt yields six months to two years down the line, affecting output and fuelling benchmark Kuala Lumpur prices.

Concerns that dry weather will hurt production have helped push up palm oil prices about 8 per cent in February, setting the market on track for its biggest monthly gain in four months.

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