Hail falls during thunderstorms in western S'pore
FITNESS trainer Koh Zhen Rong was washing his car at his condominium residence in Lakeside yesterday, when it started to pour at 2.55pm.
The 29-year-old took shelter in his car but, instead of the usual pitter-patter, he heard what sounded like "seeds dropping". Under the cover of an umbrella, Mr Koh got out and noticed that pellets of ice were falling with the rain.
He said the hail lasted for almost half an hour.
Yesterday, many people like Mr Koh noted hail in the western parts of Singapore during afternoon thunderstorms.
The last incidence of hail was believed to be in 2009.
Photos were posted on social-networking sites and citizen-journalism website Stomp, with one netizen called Jeff claiming that "several trees and cars were damaged" at Bukit Batok.
But, contrary to popular belief, the hail was not brought on by the recent cloud-seeding activities in Riau, Indonesia.
Meteorological Service director-general Wong Chin Lin said during a media briefing that it was "too far a distance" for the clouds in Riau to travel downwind to Singapore.
She added that public sightings of hail in Singapore are rare, occurring maybe once every two years. The hailstones here are typically the size of 10- or 20-cent coins.
Associate Professor Matthias Roth at the National University of Singapore's Department of Geography said hail is found in large, cumulonimbus clouds, which have low temperatures in the upper parts.
The clouds, which create heavy showers, have intense updrafts and are common in Singapore.
But Dr Roth said that, with temperatures in the region typically being very warm, the ice particles will melt, so only rain in the form of big, heavy drops will result.
On whether the haze could be a factor in creating hail, both Dr Roth and Ms Wong said it could not be confirmed. Dr Roth said that there were not enough studies done on this.
Meanwhile, the Riau capital of Pekanbaru received about 15 minutes of rain yesterday afternoon, offering residents a slight reprieve from the heat and haze, according to online reports.