Ex-PUB Chairman Warns That Shifting Northwest Pacific Typhoon Belt Will Cause More Extreme Rainfall In Singapore
What was supposed to be a forum on infrastructure maintenance between the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Public Utilities Board (PUB) to discuss the learning points from the Bishan Flooding incident has instead revealed that Singapore might have bigger problems looming on the horizon.
Singapore’s geographical location typically shields it from natural disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons but if former PUB Chairman Tan Gee Paw is to be believed, Singapore might experience stronger meteorological repercussions in the future.
Dark clouds lie ahead
The LTA-PUB Joint Forum On Infrastructure Maintenance on 5 Dec was organised to discuss the learning points of the Bishan Flooding Incident which took place on 7 Oct.
Speaking at the forum, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced that a PUB-LTA Standing Committee would be formed to look into flood prevention for tunnels. While discussing the possible problems that may cause flooding, Minister Khaw cited an email from Mr Tan Gee Paw.
In the email to the PUB and LTA on 12 Nov, the ex-PUB Chairman and Mr Khaw’s Advisor on Rail Transformation cautioned that while Singapore may never experience typhoons in their full force, “we will experience heavier rainfall periods as the typhoon belt shifts southwards and we sit at the periphery of these typhoons”.
Talk about doom and gloom.
What happens if the belt shifts south
Southeast Asia sits near the Northwest Pacific Typhoon belt which as the name suggests, begins from the Pacific Ocean.
If you take a look at the map below, you will be able to see the how most tropical storms, which at its strongest can cause super-typhoons, move westwards. These storms typically affect countries such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos the strongest. However, their repercussions can be felt in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore (circled) as well.
While we may not face storm surges after the typhoon moves from water to land, we will experience the torrential downpour that comes with being on the periphery of a tropical storm. This would increase if the Northwest Pacific Typhoon belt moves southwards as we would be closer to the center of the storm.
As such, measures should be taken to dissipate the potential increase in rainfall so as to prevent flash floods.
Build sluice gates
We are unsure what Mr Tan is basing his claim, given that the National Environment Agency (NEA) and local meteorologists have not sounded any alarm bells.
We looked through NEA’s and the Meteorological Service Singapore’s websites, and found that the worst storm that could hit Singapore would be due to a “monsoon surge” during the second week of December.
Having said that, it makes sense to be more prepared than sorry. As such, it may be a good idea to execute Mr Tan’s suggestion of building sluice gates around underground train stations.
Now you might accuse us of conjuring up dark clouds of fake news but hey, this statement came from the guy that was smart enough to bring us NEWater. We won’t be trivialising his remarks just anytime soon.