Hong Kong Observatory issues first cold weather warning of winter
Elderly and sick urged not to ‘tough it out’ during festive period if they need help
The Observatory issued its first cold weather warning of the winter season as temperatures plunged several degrees on Tuesday, but the cooler temperatures were not expected to last and a relatively warm new year is likely.
The alert prompted the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (SCHSA), a 24-hour call centre, to urge the elderly and those with chronic illnesses not to “tough it out” during the holidays as past figures showed that many delayed calling for help until after the festivities.
After a warm Christmas holiday, temperatures dropped six to seven degrees to as low as 13 degrees Celsius at 8am and ranged from 15 to 17 degrees across Hong Kong at 5pm.
Dr Cheng Cho-ming, assistant director of the Observatory, said an intense northeast monsoon affecting southern China meant temperatures were expected to dip below 12 degrees in rural areas on Wednesday.
“The intense northeast monsoon is expected to persist and therefore the morning weather will remain rather cool in the following few days,” Cheng said.
The forecaster issued the warning at 4.20pm and urged people to dress warmly in layers as temperatures were expected to fluctuate throughout the day, being warmer in the daytime and cooler in the evening.
It said temperatures would gradually warm up and hover between 18 and 21 degrees on January 1, rising to 23 degrees on January 5.
The SCHSA urged caretakers to remain vigilant for several days after a drop in temperature as over the Lunar New Year in February it received the most emergency calls ever only on the fourth day of the holiday, even though temperatures were warmer than on the first day.
The number of emergency calls surged to 185 on February 11 when temperatures were 18 degrees, compared to 113 calls on the first day when it was 14 degrees.
“Based on past figures, we see that seniors are reluctant to go to hospital or to see a doctor because they believe it’s bad luck to do so during the Lunar New Year festivities,” Irene Leung Shuk-yee, head of the association, said.
“The elderly are also afraid of causing inconvenience to their family members or our staff during the holidays and will often try to tough it out.”
Leung said it was important for caretakers to make sure senior citizens received suitable medical treatment as soon as possible.