Extreme Rainstorms that Caused Devastating Flooding across the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia during November and December 2014

Ooi See Hai National Antarctic Research Center, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Azizan Abu Samah National Antarctic Research Center, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, and Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Sheeba Nettukandy Chenoli National Antarctic Research Center, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Kumarenthiran Subramaniam Malaysian Meteorological Department, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia

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Muhammad Yunus Ahmad Mazuki National Antarctic Research Center, Institute of Postgraduate Studies, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Abstract

During the early boreal winter (northeast) monsoon (November–December), cold air frequently bursts out from intense Siberian highs toward the Chinese coast in response to the development and movement of a 500-hPa trough. The resultant strong low-level northwesterlies turn into northeasterlies across the South China Sea as “cold surges.” On interacting with the near-equatorial trough, mesoscale convective systems form north of the trough, normally giving rise to heavy downpours and severe flooding, mainly along the coastal stretch in the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia. In November 2014, a 1-week-long episode of heavy downpours, producing more than 800 mm of rain, occurred along the coastal stretch of northeastern Peninsular Malaysia. However, during December 2014, two episodes of extreme rainfall occurred mostly over inland and mountainous areas of the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, in particular across its northern sector. These two unusual events, which lasted a total of 11 days and delivered more than 1100 mm of precipitation, resulted in extreme and widespread flooding, as well as extensive damage, in many inland areas. Analysis shows that the stronger wind surges from the South China Sea due to very intense cold-air outbreaks of the Siberian high developed under ENSO-neutral conditions. In addition, the mesoscale convective systems that developed across the northeastern Indian Ocean (near northern Sumatra) in response to the propagation of a 500-hPa short-wave trough across the Indian subcontinent toward China were the combined factors for these unusual extreme rainfall and flooding events along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author e-mail: Sheeba Nettukandy Chenoli, sheeba@um.edu.my

Abstract

During the early boreal winter (northeast) monsoon (November–December), cold air frequently bursts out from intense Siberian highs toward the Chinese coast in response to the development and movement of a 500-hPa trough. The resultant strong low-level northwesterlies turn into northeasterlies across the South China Sea as “cold surges.” On interacting with the near-equatorial trough, mesoscale convective systems form north of the trough, normally giving rise to heavy downpours and severe flooding, mainly along the coastal stretch in the east coast states of Peninsular Malaysia. In November 2014, a 1-week-long episode of heavy downpours, producing more than 800 mm of rain, occurred along the coastal stretch of northeastern Peninsular Malaysia. However, during December 2014, two episodes of extreme rainfall occurred mostly over inland and mountainous areas of the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, in particular across its northern sector. These two unusual events, which lasted a total of 11 days and delivered more than 1100 mm of precipitation, resulted in extreme and widespread flooding, as well as extensive damage, in many inland areas. Analysis shows that the stronger wind surges from the South China Sea due to very intense cold-air outbreaks of the Siberian high developed under ENSO-neutral conditions. In addition, the mesoscale convective systems that developed across the northeastern Indian Ocean (near northern Sumatra) in response to the propagation of a 500-hPa short-wave trough across the Indian subcontinent toward China were the combined factors for these unusual extreme rainfall and flooding events along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author e-mail: Sheeba Nettukandy Chenoli, sheeba@um.edu.my
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