Bundle up, Hong Kong, it’s the chilliest day of the year so far, and the cold is here to stay
Temperatures fell to minus 1 degree Celsius, with cool spell expected to continue for seven days
January was given a cold send-off in Hong Kong, with the mercury plunging to minus 1 degree Celsius on Wednesday night, the lowest so far this year.
The chilly spell was expected to continue for another seven days, with the Hong Kong Observatory forecasting that the daily minimum temperature would not exceed 12 degrees until next Thursday.
A cold weather warning has been in force since Sunday, making this the January with the highest number of cold days since 2012. There were 14 cold days for the month in 2012, including a seven-day stretch from January 8 to 14.
At 11pm on Wednesday, the Observatory reported an air temperature of 7.9 degrees at its headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui. The Tai Mo Shan monitoring station, located 955 metres above sea level and the highest point in the city, recorded minus 1 degree at about 11.20pm. It was the lowest reading in Hong Kong.
The monitoring station at Tate’s Cairn recorded 1.3 degrees and the one in Ngong Ping was 1.6 degrees. Other stations in the New Territories ranged between 5.7 to 6.9 degrees.
The warmest readings in the city at 11.20pm were Happy Valley (8.2 degrees) and Wong Chuk Hang (8 degrees).
Wednesday’s weather remained cold and cloudy. Winds were occasionally strong offshore and on high ground.
According to the nine-day forecast, the minimum daily temperature will remain low at 7 degrees on Thursday and stay below 12 degrees for a week until February 8. The cold spell will persist through the latter part of next week.
The Observatory explained that an intense winter monsoon had continued to bring cold weather to the coast of Guangdong province, and a broad band of rain and clouds was covering southern China.
It predicted that in the next few days, the weather would become fine and dry, with a relatively large temperature difference between day and night.
The extended outlook forecasts a warmer festive period, with the minimum and maximum daily temperatures rising to a range between 15 and 20 degrees on February 14, Valentine’s Day, and one day before the eve of the Lunar New Year.
The continuous cold weather has put additional pressure on the city’s elderly and medical care services – especially since the flu has been raging since early January and claimed 77 lives within 22 days.
By 10pm on Tuesday, the personal emergency link service provided by the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association had been alerted 1,841 times. A total of 108 of those seeking aid – most of them for pain or after a fall – were sent to hospital.
Also on Tuesday, the accident and emergency units in public hospitals received 5,149 first attendances, with 839 transferred to medical wards, driving the overall inpatient bed occupancy rate at midnight to 107 per cent.
Over three nights from Sunday to Wednesday morning, a total of 1,777 individuals sought residence at the 17 temporary cold shelters operated by the government across Hong Kong.
The Centre of Health Protection reminded the public, especially the elderly and those with chronic illnesses, to adopt appropriate measures to protect their health, including consuming sufficient food and using heaters.
A centre spokesman said: “Elderly people have less insulating fat beneath their skin to keep them warm, and their body temperature control mechanism may be weaker. Their body may not be able to appropriately respond to the cold weather.”
Parents were called on to ensure their young children were sufficiently warm while avoiding overheating by keeping the room well-ventilated and leaving their babies’ heads, faces and arms uncovered during sleep.
Additional reporting by Danny Mok