Waterspout at National Sailing Centre damages roof, several boats

The waterspout that hit the National Sailing Centre on Jan 31 damaged its zinc roof and several boats. PHOTOS: SCREENGRABS FROM YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - The waterspout that hit the National Sailing Centre (NSC) on Wednesday afternoon (Jan 31) damaged its zinc roof and several boats, but injured nobody.

An NSC spokesman told The Straits Times that several boats, which included Laser- and Optimist-class sailing dinghies, were damaged by the storm. A video sent to The Straits Times shows a Laser sailing dinghy being blown about 20m high by the strong winds.

The spokesman said the centre's zinc roof was loosened by the storm and now has several holes in it. He added that NSC is still finalising the number of damaged boats, as well as how much repairs will cost in total.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the National Environment Agency said a waterspout was observed at around 4.10pm over the sea off the east coast of Singapore.

As it neared the coast, the waterspout weakened but still brought strong winds as fast as 59.1kmh to the East Coast Parkway area, said the NEA.

In comparison, the strongest recorded winds recorded in the East Coast Parkway area was on Dec 7, 2014, at a speed of 72.8kmh. The strongest recorded wind gust in Singapore was in 1984, at 144.4kmh in Tengah, said NEA.

The storm also sent dumpsters flying in East Coast Park, due to strong downdrafts from thunderstorm clouds that reached heights of around 16km, according to the agency. The typical height of a thunderstorm cloud is 10km to 12km.

The cause of the intense thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday were due to favourable atmospheric conditions, added NEA. "Such conditions are not uncommon in the tropics," said the agency.

National University of Singapore weather researcher, Assistant Professor Winston Chow, said that downdrafts - which can exceed 70kmh to 80kmh - were likely centred over the East Coast area on Wednesday.

Extreme weather also hit the Republic on Tuesday, with a storm dropping hailstones in northern Singapore. In addition, 46.6mm of rain was dumped between 4.55pm and 5.25pm at Sembawang, said Meteorological Service Singapore.

That is 20 per cent of Singapore's mean monthly rainfall for January falling in just 30 minutes, according to National Environment Agency figures.

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