Tropical storm brings heat and haze

Jennifer Ngo

Hongkongers endured one of the hottest days of the year yesterday as the approach of a tropical storm brought stifling heat and haze to Hong Kong.

Tropical Storm Vicente is forecast to bring strong winds and heavy showers to Hong Kong today, tomorrow and on Tuesday.

The storm, upgraded last night from a tropical depression, is expected to pass well to the south of Hong Kong as it heads towards western Guangdong.

Last night the storm was 430 kilometres southeast of the city and was forecast to move west-northwest at 18 km/h.

Women yesterday used fans and took shelter under umbrellas in a desperate attempt to ameliorate the furnace-like conditions.

In Wan Chai, book lovers wilted in the heat as they joined the snaking queue to get into the book fair.

A wall of white haze over Victoria Harbour appeared to separate Hong Kong Island from Tsim Sha Tsui as visibility dropped as low as 2.7 kilometres in Central. Any reading below 8 kilometres is considered to show extremely poor visibility when there is no fog, mist or rain.

By last night, the mercury had started to fall and the umbrellas were being used to shelter from showers rather than what little sunshine managed to make it through the haze.

In Sheung Shui, a temperature of 37.6 degrees Celsius was recorded yesterday afternoon - the highest anywhere in the city so far this year. Temperatures of 37 degrees were recorded in Happy Valley, Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan's Shing Mun Valley.

Elsewhere in urban areas, temperatures topped 35 degrees.

The Hong Kong Observatory recorded an average maximum temperature of 33.7 degrees - just 0.1 degree below the highest recorded temperature this year on July 4.

The government opened 14 heat shelters for those in need of refuge.

The Observatory hoisted typhoon signal No 1 at 3.40pm yesterday, meaning a tropical cyclone centred within 800 kilometres of the city may affect it.

It will consider raising a higher signal today.

The storm, packing maximum sustained wind speeds of 65 km/h at its centre, is expected to be closest to Hong Kong tomorrow.

The Observatory issued warnings of thunderstorms and urged the public to report flooding.


The temperature, in degrees Celsius, recorded yesterday in Sheung Shui - the highest anywhere in the city this year