Can you handle the heat? Hong Kong Observatory director forecasts more extreme weather after record-breaking years
The city saw the warmest year on record, but also the coldest day in six decades in 2016
The Hong Kong Observatory will consider extending its forecasts following a record number of extreme weather events in recent years and predictions of more harsh conditions to come.
Speaking on radio on Saturday, observatory director Shun Chi-ming said the number of extreme weather events in Hong Kong had clearly increased over the last two years when compared to the past 130 years of archival records.
Hong Kong saw 30 record-breaking weather events in 2015 and 2016 alone.
“We will be facing more such weather in the future,” Shun warned, attributing the harsh conditions to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the world’s atmosphere.
Last January Hong Kong saw the coldest day in six decades and temperatures dipped below zero in some areas.
In the end, however, 2016 was the city’s warmest year on record. In June, temperatures hit 35 degrees Celsius for four consecutive days, the longest hot streak ever – one day longer than the previous record of three days.
While the same cold conditions weren’t expected for this January, Shun said changes in weather conditions will be more amplified in coming years.
He urged Hongkongers not to take risks during extreme weather events, such as chasing typhoons or climbing the city’s highest peak in an attempt to see snow.
The director also questioned whether Hongkongers were even prepared to deal with increasingly severe weather conditions, and urged the government to support disadvantaged residents who may not have air conditioning.
“Hongkongers have been accustomed to a very comfortable indoor environment…Are they really capable of dealing with extreme weather conditions outdoors?” he said.
To help people to better prepare for more frequent weather events, the observatory will consider extending its forecasts from nine days to two weeks, the director added.
“We already have statistics covering weeks ahead,” Shun said, adding that extended forecasts were already available on various websites.
Shun said it would be ideal if observatory officers could provide scientific analysis with the release of extended forecasts to prevent unnecessary rumours, false or inaccurate readings.