Better system to predict rainfall to be ready by early next year

An enhanced smart system to forecast rainfall here with greater accuracy will be completed by the first quarter of next year, boosting the Republic's suite of tools to respond more quickly to flash floods.

Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said in Parliament yesterday that enhancements to the rainfall monitoring and prediction system will help national water agency PUB better aid owners of premises in setting up flood barriers, among other things.

When the system was announced in January last year, it had three rainfall monitoring radars installed in the eastern, northern and western parts of Singapore.

Typically used in localised weather monitoring and air-traffic control, the radars collect data that is then fed into a system every two minutes to forecast the movement, growth and decay of rain clouds.

The current system is able to predict rainfall intensity 30 minutes in advance with an accuracy of 65 per cent. The enhancements will help to further improve accuracy and increase radar coverage islandwide.

Other monitoring tools include PUB's network of water-level sensors and closed-circuit television cameras in flood-prone areas.

Ms Fu said information on floods and road closures is conveyed to motorists and the public through social media platforms and via the Land Transport Authority's Expressway Monitoring Advisory System.

"These measures will also help build preparedness for extreme weather events and strengthen community resilience, as we check weather advisories and warnings and adjust our daily schedules accordingly," she said.

Her comments come in the wake of a number of floods in Singapore over the past month after heavier-than-usual rainfall.

On Aug 24, for instance, western Singapore saw more than an entire month's worth of rainfall within three to four hours, Ms Fu said.

"Given climate change, we must prepare for more extreme weather scenarios as we are likely to see more flash floods from intense rain," she said.

She said PUB has invested almost $2 billion in drainage works in the past decade, and reduced flood-prone areas from 3,200ha in the 1970s to 28ha today.

Another $1.4 billion will be invested over the next five years in drainage improvement works.