KOTA KINABALU: A sudden gust of strong winds and heavy rains that lasted around an hour or so took city folk by surprise on Friday morning (July 1).
Photos of a rarely seen cloud formation were also circulated in various social media platforms such as Facebook.
Dr Ramzah Dambul, a climatologist at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), said while the cloud formation known as Arcus was rare and that it showed signs of bad weather ahead, it is not a phenomenon to be gravely concerned of.
“Yes, this cloud formation indicates bad weather but it will not result in anything like a typhoon,” he said in a Facebook post.
He said Arcus clouds form lower and horizontally in the sky and look like tsunami waves.
“This type of cloud is what we call the ‘cousin’ to the Cumulonimbus cloud, where both are formed when hot and cold air collide, resulting in an unstable atmospheric situation,” Dr Ramzah said.
That is why the Arcus cloud usually brings with it strong winds, heavy rains or thunderstorms, he said.
He said the difference between the Arcus and Cumulonimbus clouds is that the Cumulonimbus normally form on higher levels and are usually seen in tropical nations like Malaysia.
“Arcus clouds are, however, rare in Sabah. If I am not mistaken, Arcus clouds had formed in Kota Kinabalu in June 2012 and June 2016,” said Dr Ramzah.
“This time, it seems like the Arcus missed its bus as it only appeared after June,” he joked.
He said that Arcus clouds are usually seen over Queensland, Australia for around four times in the month of October annually.
“This cloud is, however, rarely seen in other parts of the world. Even in Kota Kinabalu, the known period it formed was only in 2012, 2016 and now. Three times in over a decade,” Dr Ramzah said.
Therefore, he urged the public to not be afraid and to explore the wonders of nature while learning about the universe and its creations.
This phenomenon caused some damage to properties following fallen trees on rooftops and vehicles, torn off roofs and blown off tents around the city.
There were, however, no reports of casualties as yet.