The November Floods in Numbers

Of all the natural disasters in Malaysia, floods are the most frequent, accounting for approximately 63% of all disasters and bringing the highest damage annually (Figure 1). It is the main cause of damages to coastal regions, especially in low-lying areas.

Penang is identified as one of the flood-prone areas in Malaysia.1 Since 2014, the north-east district has seen more flood incidences compared to the other districts in Penang (Figure 2).

On average, an annual rainfall of 2,633mm was recorded for Penang in 2017.2 The driest weather was in February when an average of about 73mm of rainfall occurred, while the wettest weather was recorded in September with an average rainfall of about 475mm (Figure 3).

The unpredictable weather pattern with unusual heavy rainfall – most likely due to the La Nina phenomenon – climaxed on November 4, 2017, resulting in massive flooding in Penang. The average rainfall from five rainfall stations in Penang on November 4 and 5 alone was 278mm, while the average rainfall in November 2017 was approximately 450mm. A total of 159 areas were affected by the floods, out of which 68 areas had never seen flooding before (Table 1). Most of the areas affected were in the south-west and north-east districts.

The November floods had a major impact on the agriculture and fisheries sectors. In the crop sub-sector, a total of 2,626 farmers and 3,464.4 ha of agricultural land were affected by the floods (Table 3). Paddy fields were affected the most, since they are usually located in low-lying areas. Total economic losses caused by the floods to the crop sub-sector were estimated to be about RM5.7mil (Table 4).

In the fisheries sector, a total of 164 culturists and inland fishermen were affected by the November floods. About 149 ponds, 135 tanks and 4,415 cages were damaged. The fisheries sector suffered a total loss of about RM57.5mil (Table 5).

1Department of Irrigation and Drainage (DID). Retrieved from
2Butterworth and Bayan Lepas rainfall stations, Malaysian Meteorological Department.

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