Rain, hail and strong winds wreak havoc

Freak weather conditions, including hail, wreaked havoc in the western part of Singapore yesterday afternoon.

Several roads were blocked by uprooted trees, causing massive traffic jams during and after the heavy downpour. The exit to Jurong Town Hall road on the PIE, Bukit Batok Road, Toh Guan Road and Old Jurong Road were some roads that were affected.

Items such as bamboo poles and plastic chairs were sent flying by strong winds. And at least three cars were damaged by falling trees and branches.

Two of the cars - a Toyota Vios and a Toyota Camry - had been parked at a building's open-air carpark on Toh Guan East Road, just beside the Pan Island Expressway.

Ms Crystal Wong, the owner of the Vios, was shocked by the sight of a tree on top of her car as she walked towards it after work at about 5pm. Her car had to be towed away.

"I don't usually park here," said the 31-year-old project manager, who works in a neighbouring building, bemoaning her bad luck. "The lots at my office building were all occupied because I was slightly late today."

The Camry, which served as Lay Auto's company car, had its roof damaged by the uprooted tree. Staff had earlier moved five other cars from the carpark to the showroom when branches were swaying wildly in the rain.

The third car was damaged while parked at Bukit Batok West Avenue 2.

The weather also caused part of the ceiling in the Church of St Mary of the Angels on Bukit Batok East Ave 2 to come crashing down.

Retiree Ang Lam Toh, who was at a coffee shop in Bukit Batok West Avenue 4 at 3pm yesterday, said he saw ice pellets - as large as 50-cent coins - falling from the sky, accompanied by heavy rain and gusts of wind so strong that plastic chairs which had been stacked atop one another at the coffee shop fell over.

"The wind was strong and the rain was also very heavy, there were ice pieces everywhere - some even landed in the coffee shop," said the 53-year-old.

Although the Singapore Civil Defence Force said there were no reports of people who had been injured by trees, two visitors to the Singapore Zoo suffered pain in the ankle and abrasions when a falling tree branch hit them, a spokesman for Wildlife Reserves Singapore said.