Singaporeans faced the eight warmest year on record in 2018 as the country saw a mean annual temperature on 27.9 degrees Celsius, announced the Meteorological Service (MSS) on Tuesday (15 January).
In 2014, 2009, and 2005, Singaporeans saw also this temperature, which is 0.4 degrees Celsius higher than the long-term average between 1981 to 2001.
It was also 0.2 degrees Celsius warmer last year than 2017’s mean annual temperature of 27.7 degrees Celsius.
The temperature records was started in 1929, with the highest mean annual temperature recorded was in 2016, where the country saw the temperature on 28.4 degrees Celsius.
The agency then said that above-average temperatures were recorded in all months in 2018 with the exception of January, when Singapore experienced an extended cool spell on 10 to 14 January.
Notably, it noted that December 2018 was the second warmest December in Singapore, with a monthly mean temperature of 27.6 degrees Celsius, which was only 0.1 degrees Celsius behind the hottest December recorded in 2015.
The agency then added that the second half of last December was particularly warm.
On 28 and 30 December, the Changi climate station recorded a daily maximum temperature of 33.8 degrees Celsius, which tied the record set on 2 December 1948, for a December day.
The agency said that there are few signs of of the long-term trend of warming in Singapore. The fact that Singapore’s top 10 warmest years have all occurred in the past 25 years, and eight of them were recorded this century is one of the signs.
The last decade (from 2009 to 2018) also marks the warmest decade in Singapore, with a mean temperature of 27.89 degree Celsius, which surpassed the previous record (1997 to 2006) by 0.02 degrees Celsius.
Despite the fact that the overall temperatures are rising, the weather also changes rapidly. A monsoon surge happened from 10 to 14 January last year, which brought five consecutive days of cool weather across the country, with the daily minimum temperature dipping to 21.2 degrees Celsius on Jan 14.
“This was the longest cool spell Singapore has experienced in at least two decades,” MSS said.
The monsoon surge refers to the strengthening of north-easterly winds blowing from a strong high-pressure system over the northern Asian continent toward the South China Sea.
Late January also brought some unusual weather events.
On 30 January, intense thunderstorms brought rain and hailstones over northern parts of Singapore. According to the agency, this is relatively rare in the tropics where hailstones usually melt before reaching the ground.
The next day, a waterspout – also associated with an intense thunderstorm – was spotted off the east coast. MSS said that strong wind gusts from the waterspout blew sail boats on the beach a few meters inland.
According to the agency, heavy rains and strong wind gusts from intense thunderstorms also caused several incidents of flash floods, fallen trees and damage to property during the year.
In last year alone, 128 contractors have been prosecuted and fined by Public Ultilities Board (PUB) for 203 offences involving unauthorised alterations and interference to the public drainage system or flouting Earth Control Measures (ECM) regulations.
PUB said that some common offences include inadequate treatment capacity and lack of cut-off drainage to separate silty water from clean water, which results in silty water overflowing into waterways from nearby construction sites during heavy rain.
On 30 March in particular, the agency said that strong wind gusts from an intense thunderstorm caused “substantial damage” to chicken farms in the Lim Chu Kang area, adding that the wind gust of 133.3 km/h recorded at the nearby Tengah station on that day was the strongest wind gust recorded since 2010.
The agency then added that the annual rainfall last year recorded in most parts of the island was close to average.
At the Changi climate station, it recorded well below average monthly rainfall in some months, particularly from February to April.
The agency noted that this contributed to an annual total rainfall of 1,708mm, 21 per cent below the 1981 to 2010 long-term average.