Residents cheer as rain ends persistent dry spell

Residents cheer as rain ends persistent dry spell
Ms Paik Suhai, 20, looking up as drops of rain fall from the sky around 10am at Yishun Ring Road on Sunday. Thundery showers are expected until Wednesday, with rain over the next fortnight, as the dry phase of the north-east monsoon transitions into the wetter inter-monsoon period.

SINGAPORE - Long-awaited downpours drenched Singapore through much of on Sunday, easing the country out of an unprecedented dry spell that had lasted since mid-January.

Rain fell from as early as 9.40am, the National Environment Agency (NEA) confirmed, with showers continuing on and off throughout the day. Straits Times readers across the island all reported showers.

As of 6.30pm, 52.6mm of rain was recorded at the Changi climate station, the NEA's reference station.

In contrast, just 75.4mm of rain fell there throughout January, while last month, there was just 0.2mm.

Netizens reacted with glee, posting photographs on social media. Even Cabinet ministers and MPs chimed in.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who had been urging the nation to conserve water, wrote on Facebook: "A nice walk in Gardens by the Bay on a cool clear morning, topped up with a welcome sprinkling of rain."

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean posted a photograph of himself drenched and smiling after a jog in Pasir Ris, writing: "Nice to get wet!"

The nation, which had a small taste of light rain last Saturday, can expect more wet weather.

The NEA forecasts thundery afternoon showers until Wednesday, and rain over the next fortnight.

The current dry phase of the north-east monsoon is transitioning into the inter-monsoon period, which generally brings more rain. However, the NEA still expects rainfall this month to be below the March long-term average of 185.9mm.

Singapore had been in the grip of persistent dry weather since mid-January, with greenery turning dry and brown, and national water agency PUB having to pump Newater - high-grade reclaimed water - into reservoirs to keep water levels healthy.

Desalination and Newater plants have been running at near-full capacity to meet 55 per cent of the nation's water needs.

The PUB said it will review its operations accordingly and called on the public to make saving water a way of life, whatever the weather.

Meanwhile, the National Parks Board called the showers "a welcome respite" for plants.

They also helped to improve air quality worsened by haze. The three-hour PSI reading fell as low as nine at 4pm. PM2.5 levels were also vastly improved at below 20 micrograms per cubic m for much of the day, down from above 60 last Thursday.

Interior designer Janet Su, 25, used her umbrella for the first time in a month. "It has been so hot and hazy. Now with the rain, I am looking forward to tomorrow."

Showers also brought much needed respite on Sunday to parts of Malaysia, and Riau province in Sumatra, Indonesia.

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