What a scorcher! Typhoon Soudelor triggers Hong Kong's hottest day in 130 years as pollution levels soar

Many elderly people struggle to cope as city records hottest temperatures in 130 years as three people were sent to hospital with suspected heatstroke and more than 1,500 call for emergency help

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 August, 2015, 3:59pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 August, 2015, 2:13am

Typhoon Soudelor scorched a place in history books yesterday, bringing Hong Kong its hottest day since records began 130 years ago, with residents baking in temperatures of up to 37.8 degrees Celsius.

The previous hottest days were on August 19, 1900 and August 18, 1990, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, its weather authority.

A spokesman for the Hospital Authority said that as of 5pm on Saturday, three people aged 62, 56 and 53 were admitted to hospital due to suspected heat stroke.

Yesterday was also the hottest recorded start to autumn in the Lunar calendar. As of 4pm, the city's temperatures reached an average 36.2 degrees Celsius. The previous record for the first day of autumn was 34 degrees Celsius, on August 8, 1953.

The air pollution levels recorded were also higher than normal yesterday, according to the Environmental Protection Department. The air quality health index recorded at several stations reached 8 or above at 1pm, jumping into the "very high" health risk category.

The department said the intense sunshine enhanced photochemical smog activities and the formation of ozone, resulting in high pollution. Light winds also hindered the dispersion of pollutants. The department said the pollution would stay higher than normal until showers next week.

People in Sheung Shui endured the worst among the regions, while those in Sham Shui Po, Wong Tai Sin and Happy Valley were barely better off as the mercury rose above 37 degrees, breaking their previous records.

Ngong Ping on Lantau island was relatively cooler, recording no more than 30 degrees.

"Under the influence of the outer subsiding air of Typhoon Soudelor, the weather of Hong Kong was very hot in the afternoon," said the Observatory, sweltering in 36.3 degrees at its Tsim Sha Tsui premises, above the 36.1 degrees recorded on August 19, 1900 and August 18, 1990. It was also the hottest start to autumn on the lunar calendar, the previous record being 34 degrees, on August 8, 1953.

READ MORE: Typhoon Soudelor spurs mass evacuation in China's Fujian after battering Taiwan

The Observatory issued a warning of very hot weather at 6.45am, though such warnings had been a daily occurrence since the start of this month.

A Hospital Authority spokesman said three people, aged between 53 and 62, were admitted to hospital due to suspected heat stroke. A total of 1,543 elderly residents called for help from social workers, mainly because of pain and shortness of breath, according to the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association.

The government reminded citizens to avoid prolonged outdoor activities, drink plenty of water and avoid beverages containing caffeine or alcohol.

The Centre for Health Protection also reminded those who suffer from obesity, heart disease or high blood pressure to pay special attention to their health amid the relentless heat.

As of 6pm on Saturday, 67 flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan were delayed and 37 cancelled because of the storm. An Airport Authority spokesman said travellers should contact their airlines or check the authority’s website for the latest flight schedule updates.

The powerful typhoon has left a trail of widespread damage and destruction in Taiwan, where at least four people were killed - including a mother and young daughter, and a fireman - and left six missing, including a nine-year-old girl.

It has left more than 3 million households without electricity, 220,000 without internet access and 60,000 without running water.

Temperatures today are forecast to range between 29 and 33 degrees, with a few showers and squally thunderstorms later in the day.

Typhoon effect

The impact of Typhoon Soudelor on Hong Kong was not felt just with record heat.

The storm meant that by 6pm yesterday 67 flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan were delayed and another 37 were cancelled.

An Airport Authority spokesman said travellers should contact their airlines before their trip or check the authority's website for the flight schedule updates.