GEORGE TOWN: For the second time in less than 10 days, Penangites were jolted by thunderstorms and strong winds which uprooted trees, ripped open zinc roofs and caused a billboard to topple.
The hour-long freak storm on Wednesday night sent a billboard crashing down in Perak Road after the iron railing gave way due to strong winds. Two people in their 50s were hurt by falling branches.
Strong winds were also reported in Simpang Ampat on the mainland. There were no reports of any casualty.
Unlike the July 30 storm that caused flash floods in low-lying areas in the state after a four-hour downpour, there were no flash floods reported this time.
Residents along Jalan Datuk Keramat expressed their unhappiness over the lack of action by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) to trim trees that posed a threat.
A resident, who wished to be known only as Kelly, said she had been urging MBPP to cut the branches for close to two years but no action was taken.
“At around 8.40pm, a tree was uprooted during the storm, damaging a car in the process. Fortunately, no one was hurt,” she said.
She noted that MBPP should trim all trees along the road and not do it selectively.
Another resident, T. Kumar, said more patrols should be carried out in areas with old big trees.
“This is to ensure no untoward incident occurs whenever a storm takes place,” he said,
State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the main priority of Skuad Pantas (Rapid Squad) and other agencies was to clear the roads and ensure mobility when strong winds hit a certain area.
“Penang is currently experiencing the south-west monsoon, which normally occurs from April to September.
“During the inter-monsoon period in October, more rain is expected,” he said.
Phee added that Jalan Bukit Teluk Bahang in Balik Pulau was reopened to traffic after the Fire Department cleared fallen trees and branches.
Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department said the strong winds that struck Penang are known as the Sumatras.
The department said the winds which could reach 40kph to 50kph would return with thunderstorms and hit northern Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah until Saturday.
The Sumatras, or Sumatra Squall Lines, are gusts of winds from the southwest monsoon that climb over the mountains of the namesake island.
The winds usually reach Peninsular Malaysia in the evening and bring a short but heavy storm to affected areas.
The Meteorological Department’s long-term weather forecast for this month until January predicts that the Sumatras will be a weather feature for the whole of the west coast until mid-September.
The north-east monsoon is expected to arrive in November and last till March, bringing heavy rains which can cause floods in parts of the east coast of the peninsula as well as parts of Sarawak.
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