Friday January 11, 2013
Sonamu fizzles out; residents advised to stay alert for heavy rain and strong winds
By RUSSELL TING
KUCHING: Fears of tropical storm Sonamu making landfall in the state were allayed after the Malaysian Meteorological Department announced that it had dissipated early Thursday.
Though the danger of the storm has passed, residents are still warned to be wary of heavy rain, strong winds and flash floods occurring in low-lying areas.
A spokesman from the department told The Star that the storm had calmed down after it raised alarms when it appeared to be nearing the coast of Borneo two days ago at speeds of up to 60kmh.
It was downgraded from a severe tropical storm to a tropical depression on Jan 10 after it was observed to have stopped moving, gradually weakening over time.
Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Kota Baru were placed on high alert on Tuesday as Sonamu, which struck the Philippines last Friday, had caused at least one death in the country.
The storm, which was initially observed on Jan 1, was upgraded by the Japan Meteorological Agency into a tropical storm named Sonamu, while the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre upgraded it to Tropical Depression 01W.
Storms are typically named for a variety of reasons, which include to facilitate communications between forecasters and the public when forecasts, watches and warnings are issued.
Names also reduce confusion about what storm is being described as more than one can occur in the same region at the same time.
Residents in the state are still advised to be on the alert as the department warned that a Yellow Stage Heavy Rain Advisory has been issued.
Occasionally moderate intermittent rain is expected to occur over the state in Kuching, Samarahan, Betong, Sri Aman, Sarikei, Sibu, Mukah and Bintulu until Jan 12, which could cause floods in low-lying areas.
Northeasterly winds with speeds between 40 and 50kmh and waves exceeding 3.5 to 4.5m in the waters of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Tioman, east Johor, Samui, Sarawak, Labuan, Sabah, Reef South and Bunguran are expected to continue until Jan 13.
Strong wind conditions and rough seas are dangerous to small boats, recreational sea activities and sea sports so members of the public as well as fishermen and offshore oil rig workers are advised to stay away from coastal areas.
According to the Sarawak government almanac, the King Tide is expected to occur as well, reaching 6m in height at 4.52pmtoday, 6.2m at 5.39pmtomorrow, and 6.3m at 6.25pm on Sunday and 8.19pm on Monday.
More information can be obtained from the departmentís website at www.met.gov.my or its 24-hour hotline at 03-7967 8116.