Storm winds and heavy rains have caused travel turmoil in Bali over the last two days with more weather warning issued for the coming days. The fallout of ex-Tropical Cyclone Ellie has been playing havoc with transportation by air and by sea. The weather has resulted in planes being unable to land at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar and damaging fast boats carrying tourists to Bali’s outlying islands.
On Monday, 2nd December, five flights scheduled to land at Ngurah Rai International were unable to do so due to high wind speeds. The five flights impacted by the severe weather flew to Bali from Surabaya, Jakarta, and Hanoi.
The General Manager of Bali Airport, Handy Heryudhitiawan, told reporters the details of the travel disruptions. Speaking on Monday evening, he explained, “There were five flights to Bali Airport that were affected by strong winds, namely one flight [returned] back to the airport of origin, two flights diverted to other airports, and two flights that were holding in the airspace of Bali Airport.”
He continued, “The planes that returned to the airport of origin were flights from Surabaya, the planes that were diverted to Lombok Airport were flights from Hanoi and Jakarta, as well as two other flights from Jakarta holding [at Bali Airport]. Based on our monitoring, several flights are still waiting for the weather to improve. This is to ensure flight safety [but] until Monday evening, flights at Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport are still operating.”
The news comes as the Center for Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics in Denpasar has issued weather warnings from the 2nd to the 4th of January, with more bad weather anticipated in the next week. The BMKG has urged the public to exercise caution, especially if engaging in activities along the coast or on the ocean, as strong winds are causing high waves and strong currents.
The BMKG Bali has issued an extreme weather warning for the 3rd and 4th of January. The warning reads “Be aware of the potential for moderate to heavy rain, which can be accompanied by lightning and strong winds in most areas of Bali as well as high sea waves which can reach 2.0 meters or more in the Bali Sea, Bali Strait, Badung Strait, Lombok Strait, South Bali Waters, and Bali South Indian Ocean”
Since Christmas, travelers heading to Bali’s outlying islands of Nusa Penida, the Gili Islands, or even traveling by boat to Lombok, have been advised to opt for the ferry rather than fast boats. Given the high waves and strong currents, the ferries have been able to operate more safely and consistently than the fast boats. In fact, between Christmas and New Year, authorities blocked fast boat services in order to prioritize public safety.
On Monday, 2nd January, six people traveling from Nusa Lembongan to Sanur in Bali were injured as a fast boat was hit by high waves. Those injuries were from Indonesia, Australia, India, Russia, and the Netherlands. The Head of Klungkung Police Public Relations, Iptu Agus Widiono, confirmed details of the incident to reporters.
He explained that shortly after departing from Tanjung Sanghyang Harbor, in Nusa Lembongan, at around 4.10 pm, the fast boat was smashed by high waves. This “resulted in the windshield of the fast boat breaking and hitting six passengers, causing them to be injured.” Widiono confirmed that passengers were being taken care of, he said “for this incident the victims only suffered [minor] injuries and are currently being given medical treatment”.
Travelers are urged to consider whether swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and diving are safe and necessary in the days ahead. Although many beaches in Bali remain open to the public at all times, very few have a flag system in place or have lifeguards on duty.
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