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Hail, flash floods, fallen trees reported in Yishun after thunderstorm

SINGAPORE – A thunderstorm on Tuesday (Jan 30) afternoon not only flooded roads, but rained hail and toppled several trees in the northeastern part of the island.

Hail, flash floods, fallen trees reported in Yishun after thunderstorm

A damaged tree is seen along Seletar North Link after a thunderstorm late Tuesday (Jan 30) afternoon. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

SINGAPORE – A thunderstorm on Tuesday (Jan 30) afternoon not only flooded roads, but rained hail and toppled several trees in the northeastern part of the island.

PUB said in a statement late Tuesday night that the flash floods, which ocurred at 5.17pm, were caused by "overland flow from the storm (which) exceeded the capacity of the roadside drains".

The flood subsided around 30 minutes later at 5.45pm.

Earlier in the day, the agency had issued a flood alert for Seletar North Link at around 5.30pm, advising motorists to avoid the area as both lanes of the two-lane stretch was flooded by heavy rain.

According to the PUB, Seletar North Link had experienced a similar flash flood last December.  

They agency added that it is in the process of constructing two temporary drains in the area to alleviate flooding. "One such drain will be completed shortly in mid February. The other should be done by May 2018. More permanent drainage is planned in tandem with upcoming developments in the area," it said.

Nearby along Yishun Avenue 1, footage emerged showing several trees lying strewn across the road.

The footage, which was uploaded onto Facebook by Mr Faizal Fila with a caption advising drivers to avoid Seletar Dam, showed large tree branches that appeared to have been snapped off.

The 38-year-old taxi driver told TODAY he was driving home through the affected stretch with his wife at 4.45pm when the video was taken.

"It started at the Seletar West Link CTE exit," said Mr Faizal. He said some of the fallen trees were uprooted, while others had snapped into half. He added that the trail of tree debris went all the way to Yishun Avenue 1 and to Avenue 11.

"Even the Yishun Avenue signboard was smashed to the ground," he said.

Mr Faizal described visibility as being "extremely poor, even when driving really slowly". He added that he did not notice any vehicles that had been damaged by the fallen debris.

Above: Collateral damage caused by Tuesday's storm at Oh Farms at Bah Soon Pah Road. Photo: Ore Huiying

Tuesday's storm had also caused collateral damage at a farm at Bah Soon Pah Road.

Ms Ore Huiying shared on her Facebook page damage caused by the storm at Oh Farms. Photos showed broken hydroponic sets littering a portion of the farm, with protective nets and metal frames blown out of place.

The 36-year-old freelance photographer, who helps out at the family farm, told TODAY that strong gusts of wind had also blown off one of the zinc roof structures at the farm.

"It lasted very briefly, but the damages caused were the most serious we've ever seen since operating the farm!" she said. 

According to Ms Ore, a neighbouring farm was not spared as well. The strong winds had toppled some of its wooden structures and sent pieces of broken wood flying over to her side.

“Everyone was scrambling for shelter,” she said. 

While no one was injured, she estimates that the damage caused by the storm would put production at the hydroponics farm on hold for at least a week.  

Social media users also reported witnessing hail during the storm. Footage from videos showed ice pellets the size of grapes falling onto grass patches at a nearby golf course and the balcony of a condominium.

TODAY has reached out to the National Environment Agency (NEA) for comments

According to a description on the NEA website, hailstones are quite rare in the tropics because they usually melt as they fall from the clouds, before reaching the ground. On average, public sightings of hailstones in Singapore occur every one to two years.

The last time Singapore experienced hail was in October 2014.

Elsewhere, other social media users had uploaded their experience commuting through Tuesday's storm. Twitter user The Snapped Fork said she was stuck in traffic on the way from Yishun to Yio Chu Kang.

She wrote that there were more than "20 trees over the road, thick traffic, snapped road barriers, bent signage."

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A worker who was clearing the road of fallen trees told TODAY that at least 50 trees had fallen along Seletar North during the storm. 

Last week, flash floods were also reported in the Western and Central parts of Singapore, after an afternoon of heavy rain on Wednesday (Jan 24).

The floods were reported at Jalan Boon Lay/International Road, Craig Road and Outram Road.

The PUB says it expects the ongoing Northeast Monsoon season to continue till March.

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