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2017 hottest year on record not influenced by El Nino, says weatherman

SINGAPORE — 2017 was the hottest year on record that was not influenced by an El Nino event, the weatherman said, pointing to the effects of global warming and urbanisation.

2017 hottest year on record not influenced by El Nino, says weatherman

Pedestrians holding up umbrellas for shelter from the hot sun in Singapore. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — 2017 was the hottest year on record that was not influenced by an El Nino event, the weatherman said, pointing to the effects of global warming and urbanisation.

The mean annual temperature of 27.7°C in Singapore was 0.2°C higher than the long-term average from 1981 to 2010, but lower than 2016's record of 28.4°C.

It was the joint 12th hottest year on record since data collection began in 1929, the Meteorological Service Singapore (Met Service) said on Thursday (Jan 11).

The El Nino phenomenon — which contributed to 2015 and 2016 being successive record warm years — leads to drier and warmer conditions, particularly between June and October across South-east Asia.

It is the warm phase of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), a temperature cycle in the tropical central and eastern Pacific Ocean that is a major contributor to year-to-year rainfall and temperature variations in Singapore and the region.

The ENSO was "neutral" throughout last year, except in November and December, when it reached "borderline La Nina" values. La Nina is ENSO's cold phase.

"Given the influence ENSO can have on temperatures, it is not surprising that following 2015's large El Nino event which contributed to 2015 and 2016 being successive record warm years, no temperature record was broken in 2017," the Met Service said in its summary of Singapore's weather and climate in 2017.

A detailed Annual Climate Assessment Report will be released on World Meteorological Day in March.

There were nonetheless some sweltering days last year. October was a warm month, and the hottest day was recorded on March 15 in Jurong West, with the thermometer registering 35.7°C.

Temperatures also exceeded 34°C in some areas in January and December, which are usually the cooler months of the year.

The total rainfall for 2017 was "close to normal", said the Met Service. At 2,045.6mm, it was about 6 per cent lower than the long-term average of 2,165.9mm.

Still, heavy downpours from intense thunderstorms led to flash floods, while strong winds from Sumatra squalls also downed trees and branches.

Northeast Monsoon surges led to a wet February and December 2017. In February, a typically dry month, there were 15 rain days, almost twice the average for that month.

Singapore experienced widespread, intermittent rain on the last two days of December due to a monsoon surge and a nearby vortex in the South China Sea.

December was the wettest month, with 371.2mm of rainfall recorded, 17 per cent above the long-term average.

Globally, 2017 was among the hottest years on record.

In November, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said the year was on course to be the second or third warmest on record.

Continuing global warmth means that 2015, 2016 and 2017 were now the three warmest years on record, according to data available to date for 2017, it had said.

Significant weather and climate events in 2017 included a "very active North Atlantic hurricane season, major monsoon floods in the Indian subcontinent, and continuing severe drought in parts of east Africa", said the WMO. In September, for instance, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, killing hundreds of people and causing widespread damage of infrastructure.

SNAPSHOT OF SINGAPORE'S WEATHER AND CLIMATE IN 2017

27.7 - mean annual temperature (°C)

Warmest month – June (Marina Barrage)

Coolest month – February (Clementi)

Wettest month – November (Sembawang)

90 – strongest wind gust (kmh), recorded on Sept 20 in Pasir Panjang

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