Hailstones! Lots of it! In Singapore! I knew that there will be hailstones in Singapore this year given the extremely cold weather in March this year and that the weather everywhere had been going haywired recently. Indeed, hailstones have been spotted in central Singapore, in areas such as Bishan, Braddell and Toa Payoh. The hailstones were like those lime-flavoured ice-pellets that some ice-cream company used to sell, except that it’s plain ice and melts when you picked them up.

It’s one of the rare times that it "snows" in Singapore. Now, only if it is finer (so that it’s like snow) and lasts longer.

PARTS of Singapore were pelted with hailstones during Thursday’s afternoon’s heavy downpour.

The weatherman confirmed that these pellets of ice were reported in central Singapore between 3.15pm and 3.45pm.

Roughly three-quarters the size of a Singapore five-cent coin, they caused a stir among those living or working in Bishan and Toa Payoh.

Hailstones, formed in thunderstorm clouds, usually melt before they hit the ground, but strong downward gusts of wind occasionally send them ground-wards before they melt.

A managing director who wanted to be known only as Mr Goh was in his office in a flatted factory building along Braddell Road said that when the hail started falling, he thought it was just raining heavily.

‘But the sound of the rain was different – it sounded more like solid things were falling,’ he said.

On going out to the corridor in front of his office, he and his staff saw tiny bead-like objects bouncing about on the floor as the rain poured down.

They became excited when they realised the beads were solid pieces of ice which melted as soon as they were picked up.

Mr Goh, who said it was the first time he had seen this weather phenomenon, added that at first, there was ‘quite a lot of ice’, but as the minutes went by, they petered out and only rain fell.

He reckoned the hailstones fell for about 10 minutes.

Another witness, IT consultant Stuyvesant Lim, 35, was observing a quiet game of chess at a Residents Committee Centre in Bishan East when he heard a commotion outside.

He said: ‘I thought it was kids throwing ice from the block. Then we all realised it was falling from the sky.’

He realised one other thing – that had the hailstones been bigger, the windscreens of cars could have been damaged.

Mrs Evelyn Chan, 53, who runs a machine tools business with her husband but was home on Thursday, said the strangely ‘hazy’ atmosphere made her step out of her kitchen into the backyard of her house in Carmichael Road, off Braddell Road.

She said: ‘When I looked at the ground, I saw crystals. I thought it was snow! But when I picked up a piece, I realised it was ice.’

The last time hail fell here was in July last year.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 27th March 2008

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