Wet weekend in store as thunderstorm, landslide warnings remain in force

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 12:17am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 September, 2015, 10:36pm

Foul weather continued to plague Hong Kong on Friday evening after the city was last night battered by the second black rainstorm of the year and gusts of wind up to 100km/h.

Heavy showers were accompanied by rumbles of thunder, while forecasters said there was more to come over the weekend.

The amber rainstorm warning was raised at 8.50pm on Friday, the second time in 24 hours after the city was lashed by rain on Thursday, with flash floods bringing traffic to a standstill in Causeway Bay and other areas. 

The warning forecast heavy rain exceeding 30 millimetres in an hour, but was taken down by 10.20pm on Friday night. Landslip and thunderstorm warnings remain in force as further bad weather is expected.

Hong Kong Observatory on Friday afternoon warned of the risk of landslips caused by the continuing downpours, telling motorists to keep off roads where landslip signs are present and warning people to stay away from steep slopes or retaining walls.

An Observatory forecast issued at 12.45pm said: "A trough of low pressure is bringing rain and thunderstorms to southern China and the northern part of the South China Sea. Locally, more than 30 millimetres of rainfall were recorded over Clear Water Bay, the southern part of Hong Kong Island and the southern part of Lantau Island in the past few hours."

This afternoon trees were reported to have fallen in Central and Tsuen Wan, while landslides were reported in Happy Valley and Sha Tin.

Watch: Lightning and floods hit Hong Kong

Last night the city was pummelled by rain, causing flash floods and leaving people wading through inches of filthy water.

Roads in Central and Wan Chai were under several inches of water, leaving many bus passengers stranded, as the government opened emergency shelters for those trapped by the storm.

The black rainstorm warning was raised at 10.30pm, remaining in force until 11.40pm. Last night's storm marked the first time since 1998 that two black rainstorm warnings have been issued before June in any given year.

By midnight the worst had passed and the signal had been replaced with the red, later followed by the amber warning, which was cancelled at 2.05am.

But rain returned this morning with the Observatory issuing the amber signal once again at 8.30am, which remained in force for almost two hours.

The bad weather forced this morning's cancellation of the daily flag-raising ceremony at at Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai at 8am.

Between 9pm last night and 2am the Observatory recorded 2,313 lightning strikes, with Hong Kong Island and Kowloon bearing the brunt with 1,345 strikes.

Central, other parts of Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island were worst hit by the rain, with an estimated 150-200 millimetres falling in the 24 hours ending 7.15am this morning, according to the Observatory.

The Home Affairs Department opened temporary shelters for anyone unable to reach their homes due to the weather.

There were at least two reports of tree falls by this morning, with a two-metre branch landing on a taxi on Pok Fu Lam Road around 3am, smashing its windscreen. The driver suffered minor injuries. A six-metre tall tree fell on Nam Fung Road near Aberdeen around 2am.

The junction of Leighton Road and Morrison Hill Road in Causeway Bay was one of the worst-hit spots, with passengers stuck on at least two broken-down buses having to struggle across the flooded roads.

A video posted online showed the Cross Harbour Tunnel was also flooded, with ankle-deep water slowing traffic to a crawl.

A car and a taxi were stranded in floods along Kennedy Road, in the Mid-Levels. Seven people had to be rescued by firemen. No one was injured.

Flooding was reported in areas including Central, Sai Kung, Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin, Tin Sum and Tseung Kwan O, while fallen trees, landslides and road subsidence was also reported.  

March 30 saw the first black rainstorm of this year - and it was a record breaker.

At the peak of the storm 56 millimetres of rain fell in one hour - the highest hourly rainfall seen on a March day since records began in 1884.

The first El Nino in more than four years is expected to occur this year and could distort Hong Kong's regular weather patterns.

Caused by a warming Pacific Ocean, and leading to flooding and droughts around the world, El Nino is expected to delay Hong Kong's typhoon season and increase rainfall over the territory in winter and spring.