Hong Kong records coldest day in May for more than 100 years

  • Observatory reports minimum temperature of 16.4 degrees Celsius on Monday morning, lowest figure recorded in May since 1917
  • Veteran meteorologist says weather fluctuations caused by seasonal transition from winter to summer; adds it is a good sign amid climate change fears

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People take photos in Tsim Sha-Tsui. Hong Kong recorded its coldest day in May for more than a century on Monday morning, according to the city’s weather forecaster. Photo: Felix Wong

Hong Kong recorded its coldest day in May for more than a century on Monday morning, with a veteran meteorologist calling it a “good sign” amid climate change fears.

The Hong Kong Observatory reported a minimum temperature of 16.4 degrees Celsius in Tsim Sha Tsui, the lowest figure for May since 1917, breaking the previous record from 2013 of 16.6 degrees.

The city’s cool weather was the result of a northeast monsoon and showers, which were caused by an upper-air disturbance, the forecaster said. The monsoon has also affected the rest of Guangdong’s shoreline.

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On Friday, the Observatory issued its earliest “very hot weather” warning since the system was introduced in 2000. The signal was issued for the first time in April when the Hong Kong Wetland Park, located in the city’s northwest, recorded afternoon temperatures of 35.9 degrees.

But a leading meteorologist said there was no conclusive evidence to indicate the recent weather fluctuations were the result of climate change.

Leung Wing-mo, a former assistant director at the Observatory, explained that Hong Kong was experiencing a transition from winter to summer, leading to different seasonal monsoons affecting the current temperature.

Just a few days earlier, the city issued one of its earliest-ever “Very Hot” warnings. Photo: Jonathan Wong

“This time, the winter monsoon is stronger than the summer monsoon, along with the rain, so the weather is cooler,” he said. Leung added that seawater temperatures were lower than normal and had produced a “cold snap”.

He said such a low temperature in May was “rare”, as it was about seven degrees lower than the average minimum temperature of 23.3 degrees, based on data recorded during the first five days of May over a period of 1991 to 2020.

“Under global warming, cool weather in May will be rarer, while hot weather will be more common, which we are worried about,” he said. “So cold weather in May is in fact a good sign.”

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Last year, the city’s weather forecaster reported a temperature of 36.1 degrees during the hottest recorded day in May, breaking the previous record of 35.5 degrees from 1963.

Hong Kong recorded its warmest year on record in 2021, logging 54 very hot days and 61 hot nights, with daily minimum temperatures reaching 28 degrees or above.

Monday’s weather is predicted to remain mostly cloudy and cool for the rest of the morning, with one or two showers. However, the afternoon is likely to see bright periods, along with moderate to fresh northerly winds.

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