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Hong Kong air pollution

Are changing winds about to send China’s dreaded smog to Hong Kong?

While Hong Kong has recently enjoyed fresh easterly winds from the sea, the wind direction is expected to change on Sunday, with gusts blowing in from the north and northeast directions, carrying pollutants from the mainland

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 January, 2017, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 January, 2017, 9:19am

The dreaded smog that has blanketed widespread regions of China over the past week might reach Hong Kong as early as Sunday with the arrival of monsoon winds from the northeast, weather forecasters say.

According to the World Air Quality Index, which compiles data from more than 600 cities in more than 70 countries, pollution levels around Hong Kong were forecast to worsen over the weekend.

With the arrival of the northeast monsoon, it will also become slightly cooler in the following couple of days, with a low of 17 degrees Celsius on Monday, dipping to 14 degrees Celsius next weekend. There will also be a few rain patches by mid-week.

As of 3pm on Saturday, monitoring stations around the city returned air quality figures of between 65 and 149. But a forecast of between 158 and 250 was set for Sunday, with a higher number denoting worse pollution levels. A figure between 151 and 200 is classified as “unhealthy”, and a number between 201 and 300 means the air is “very unhealthy”, with children and people with respiratory diseases advised to avoid all outdoor activities.

Changing wind directions might explain why the air quality was set to deteriorate quickly. While Hong Kong has recently enjoyed fresh easterly winds from the sea, the wind direction would change on Sunday, with gusts blowing in from the north and northeast, carrying pollutants from the mainland.

In contrast, the Air Quality Health Index published by the Environmental Protection Department suggested only a “low to moderate” health risk for Sunday.

The city’s official forecaster also hinted at worsening pollution – albeit in more subtle terms – saying visibility would be “relatively low in some areas” Sunday.