KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 – The Meteorological Department, Friday advised the people to stay clear of open areas during rain in the current inter-monsoon season. Its director-general, Datuk Che Gayah Ismail, said the thunderstorms and strong winds could trigger whirlwinds that could blow off roofs and uproot trees, thus endangering lives.
The people should avoid participating in outdoor activities during rain although it might only last for between 30 minutes and three hours, he said. Commenting on the whirlwind in Pendang, Kedah, last Wednesday, Che Gayah said the phenomenon resulted from the collision of air particles that accumulated moisture and produced cumulonimbus or thunderstorm clouds.
She said the year-round hot and humid Malaysian weather would not cause tornadoes like in the United States. “It is difficult to predict whirlwinds. The wide and open area in the Pendang district triggers its occurrence, what more with the thunderstorms during this inter-monsoon period,” she said.
In the whirlwind which occurred in Pendang at about 4.30 pm, 11 houses occupied by about 50 people and Sekolah Kebangsaan Alor Besar were badly damaged, trees were uprooted and the roof, walls and furniture of houses were blown off. Malaysia is currently experiencing the inter-monsoon season, which lasts from the end of September to the middle of November, after which the Northeast Monsoon period will set in until March next year.