A tornado known as “landspout” appeared in Perlis at about 6.14pm on Monday (April 18).
The tornado was alleged to have hovered in the air for nearly five minutes in a rice field in Arau’s Kampung Kubang Gajah.
While the occurrence this time did not result in severe catastrophes, it did generate panic and worry among those who witnessed it.
Former school principal Zainol Abidin, 67, from Kampung Simpang Geti, was among those who witnessed the storm. He explained that he was concerned after observing the occurrence while standing outside his house.
“Actually, the incident occurred not far from the house, which is why it was so noticeable,” he explained.
Even though Zainol knew that it was bound to happen, he did not expect it to strike so near to his home.
Meanwhile, numerous Perlis inhabitants have taken to social media to share images and videos of the occurrence.
As per the images, the tornado can be seen up to a distance of about 10 kilometres from the scene.
According to Mohd. Saharudi Saad, Director of the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) Perlis, this sort of tornado is usually formed when there is a concentration of wind on the surface due to hot air rising upwards.
He explained that the wind that converges in usually rotates counterclockwise and added that the tornado was formed due to “vorticity stretching”, a term for hot air rising upwards.
He said it occurred during the transition of two monsoons, namely the Southwest Monsoon and the Northeast Monsoon in mid-March to May, and September to October.
He also noted that it usually happens in watery areas and this incident is likely to happen again in the near future.
Perak experienced a similar incident just three months ago, that left a significant number of homes in Taman Tasek Damai and Kampung Tawas damaged and unsalvageable. Roof tiles were blown off, and power poles collapsed.
In February, Sabah was also struck by a ‘waterspout’ tornado.
Netizens have expressed distress regarding the repetitive occurrences of this natural disaster, filling the comment sections of the videos with words of prayer, advising one another to stay safe and take preventive measures where possible.
Most news sites and government agencies suggest that while tornadoes cannot be prevented or accurately predicted beforehand, the best course of action to protect oneself during a thunderstorm is to take shelter in a small interior ground floor room such as a basement, remain seated below a sturdy object like a table and stay away from windows and doors.
Additionally, citizens can refer to the Malaysian Meteorological Department’s Facebook page for weather updates and thunderstorm warnings.