Past week one of the coldest - and chilly weather set to persist

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 February, 2008, 12:00am

Hong Kong has just endured one of its coldest weeks on record, but the Observatory warned that the worst is yet to come.

The temperature yesterday fell to only 8 degrees Celsius. The cold weather signal has been in force for 10 days - a record.

Heaters were a hot sales item as the Observatory predicted the chilly weather would last until the Lunar New Year holiday.

Nearly 1,000 elderly people used their personal emergency links yesterday, of whom 73 were taken to hospital. A record 1,700 seniors alerted the system on Friday.

Leung Wing-mo, the Observatory's senior science officer, said it was rare for the cold weather signal to be hoisted for more than a week.

'The winter this year is particularly freezing,' he said. 'None of the days in 2007 had a temperature below 10 degrees Celsius. But weather does keep changing because of climate variability, which causes conditions to differ by year or a few years.'

The last time Hong Kong was affected by persistent cold temperatures was in January 2004, when the cold weather signal was hoisted for 8? days. The record before that was seven days in February 1996.

Mr Leung said the clash between the winter monsoon and the warm and moist air from the south produced falling temperatures and rain.

'Although the public should expect a cold Lunar New Year, the weather during that time should be less humid, and we may see the sun again,' he said.

Because of the low temperatures, stores selling heaters and hot pot restaurants enjoyed brisk business.

Lo Nai-kin, manager of Tack Hsin Restaurant said hot pot was usually a popular choice during the winter, and it was even more loved with the exceptionally chilly weather.

'Our business is up about 10 per cent this week,' he said. 'Other hot pot restaurants are crowded, too, thanks to the weather.'

Many shops were sold out of heaters. A saleswoman from the Fortress in Tung Chung said all heaters were gone, and an extra supply was snapped up in barely 10 minutes.