With temperatures sinking below six degrees on Lantau this morning, the Hong Kong Observatory has warned that the cold spell will continue until late next week.
“The winter monsoon and its replenishment will maintain the cold spell over southern China to the latter part of next week,” the Observatory said.
“Locally, temperatures over the territory this morning were generally two to three degrees lower than those of yesterday,” it said in an early morning post.
It warns of relatively large temperature difference between day and night in the next few days.
At 5:40am, the temperature was 6.6 degrees in Chek Lap Kok and 5.9 in South Lantau and Cheung Chau, while Ngong Ping shivered at 0.6 degrees.
The cold snap is the result of an intense winter monsoon that has brought wintry weather to southern China.
A strong monsoon signal has been in force since late yesterday afternoon, bringing winds from the north and rough seas, the Observatory said.
The monsoon – a seasonal wind that arises out of the differential heating of seas and lands – usually arrives in Hong Kong from the northeast in winter and the southwest in summer.
Today will be dry and fine, with expected maximum of 13 degrees.
The government is planning to strengthen flood control in Tai O following complaints that a recently-installed embankment did not keep out storm surges.
The village was flooded by Typhoon Hato in August, despite the presence of a 220-metre long wall built four years ago at cost of $150 million, prompting criticism from villagers and local leaders.
Drainage Services Department director Edwin Tong said last week the department would install a temporary flood-control flap that would increase the height of the embankment from 3.3 metres to 3.8 metres, Ming Pao reported.
He said a review showed that the embankment wasn’t high enough and that it had taken too long to move sandbags and install floodgates at Wing On and Tai Ping streets.
The temporary flap could be quickly erected as a typhoon approached, he said.
Typhoon Hato brought one of Hong Kong’s biggest ever storm surges, reaching a peak of 3.57 meters, second only to Typhoon Wanda in 1962, in which the water level reached 3.96 metres.
Photo (top): Government flood drill, Tai O, July 2017
Typhoon Khunan brought more than wind and rain to Hong Kong yesterday – it also helped create a massive traffic jam.
Traffic control measures on the Lantau Link caused vehicles heading to the airport and Tung Chung to back up as far as Stonecutters Bridge and Sham Tseng.
The result was rare scenes of people abandoning their rides and walking to the Tsing Yi and Disney MTR stations in order to catch their flights.
The traffic jam, which at one stage reached 13 kilometres long, followed the closure of the Tsing Ma and Ting Kau bridges. Vehicles were diverted to the lower deck of the Tsing Ma, causing drivers to be delayed in traffic for up to four hours, Apple Daily reported.
Secretary for Transport & Housing Frank Chan called for public understanding over the traffic controls, which were intended to ensure public safety. He told reporters restrictions were introduced only when the wind speed on Tsing Ma or Ting Kau bridges exceeded a specified level.
It was the second major traffic jam on the Lantau Link in two months. Drivers were delayed for several hours when the two-way toll was introduced in August.
The T8 storm signal was raised for 11 hours yesterday, in which time 479 flights were delayed and 79 were cancelled, according to Apple Daily.
Photo (top): Traffic banked up behind Ting Kau Bridge
Tai O appears set to be flooded once again tonight with typhoon Khanun expected to pass within 200 kilometres of the city this afternoon.
Hong Kong Observatory says tides are now running more than 50 centimetres above normal. “A high tide will occur tonight and cause flooding in some low-lying areas,” it adds.
Tai O, located at sea level on Lantau’s western edge, has already been flooded twice this year. Typhoons Hato and Pakhar hit the city within a a few days of each other in August, swelling Tai O’s water level to 3.7 metres and leaving the villages with a clean-up that took weeks.
District Councillor Randy Yu has called for the creation of a “post-crisis mechanism” to help Tai O and other low-lying villages deal with floods.
The Observatory says the storm Signal 8 will likely remain in force for most of the afternoon. According to its 12:45pm bulletin:
Local winds are turning northeasterlies, and are forecast to become easterlies later. Areas which were previously sheltered will become exposed and winds will strengthen. Members of the public should stay on the alert.
In the past hour, the maximum sustained winds recorded at Green Island, Sha Chau and Tai Mei Tuk were 70, 68 and 63 kilometres per hour with maximum gusts 91, 96 and 101 kilometres per hour respectively.
The HK Observatory raised the T8 storm signal at 8:40 this morning, predicting Typhoon Khanun to pass about 200 kilometres southwest of the city later today.
At 9am it was 260 km south-southeast of the city, with maximum wind speeds of 140kmh at the centre.
The last ferries will run at 10:20am and 10:40am from Central and Mui Wo respectively, New World First Ferry has announced.
New Lantao Bus says it will halt all South Lantau services before 11am. It will run limited services on routes to Yat Tung and Tin Shui Wai.
The MTR will run as normal, but the corporation warns this may change at short notice.
The Observatory forecast for today:
Strong to gale northerly winds, occasionally storm force on parts of high ground. Becoming east to northeasterly winds. Cloudy to overcast with occasional heavy showers and squalls. Seas will be very rough with swells. The maximum temperature will be about 24 degrees.
UPDATE: MTR has announced it will provided limited rail service. Tung Chung Line trains will run at 10-minute intervals.
More than 40 volunteers yesterday collected 150 bags of rubbish dumped on Shui Hau mangroves by typhoons three weeks ago.
Organiser Ho Loy, chairman of the Lantau Buffalo Assocation, warns that more cleaning up may be required.
She said that yesterday’s three-hour cleanup removed the plastic bags and general rubbish from just a quarter of the mangroves.
“Don’t rule out a second round of action in the short term,” she said in a Facebook post, warning that two more big winds may be on the way.
Photos: Ho Loy
Tung Chung’s air quality yesterday hit dangerous levels, with more bad air on its way.
The government Air Quality Index (AQI) reached 10+ – its highest level – in Tung Chung, Tuen Mun and Yuen Long on Tuesday afternoon, a result of high temperatures and light winds.
The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) says the hot, still conditions are the result of a subtropical ridge which will continue today. It said in a statement:
Hong Kong will remain very hot with sunny periods. Showers will increase gradually in the latter part of this week. It is expected that pollution levels will remain higher than normal until then.
The department warns that when AQI readings reach the 10+ or “serious” level, children, elderly and people with heart or respiratory illnesses are advised to stay indoors.
The general public is advised to reduce to the minimum outdoor physical exertion, and to reduce to the minimum the time of their stay outdoors, especially in areas with heavy traffic.
Islands District Councillor Amy Yung has called on the EPD to explain the “continued deterioration of air quality in Tung Chung.”
In a question tabled prior to yesterday’s readings, Yung asked EPD officials to attend next Monday’s council meeting to advise what measures have been formulated to improve Tung Chung’s air.
Tung Chung historically has had some of the city’s worst air quality, a result of its proximity to the airport and the Pearl River as well as the basin effect of mountains on three sides.
The area is in the throes of a massive expansion in population, from 80,000 today to an estimated 268,000 in the middle of the next decade.
A maximum of 34.3 degrees was recorded at Chek Lap Kok yesterday. At 11:45 today the temperature at Chek Lap Kok was 31.1 degrees.
The Observatory raised the T8 signal and the amber rainstorm warnings at 5:10am as Typhoon Pakhar approaches Hong Kong.
The typhoon is about 120 km southwest of Hong Kong and forecast to land west of the Pearl River Estuary at 12 noon.
Low-lying areas face possible flooding, the Observatory warns.
Cathay Pacific says it expects delays and cancellations on services on Sunday and Monday.
The MTR will run limited services on the Tung Chung and other lines.
The Hong Kong Observatory may raise the T8 warning early Sunday morning as Typhoon Pakhar approaches the city.
The Observatory hoisted the T3 warning at 8:40pm tonight and the thunderstorm warning at 9:20.
It warned of flooding in low-lying areas, raising fears of further flooding in Tai O. Dozens of residents were evacuated from the coastal village after sea levels rose dramatically when Hato hit on Wednesday morning.
Pakhar, which is expected to come within 150 kilometres of Hong Kong tomorrow morning, packs much less of a punch, with maximum wind speeds of around 90kmh.
Hato, just the second hurricane-level typhoon in three decades, brought sustained wind speeds of up to 130 kmh.
The Observatory it said in a statement Saturday evening:
Severe Tropical Storm Pakhar moves relatively fast and continues to edge closer to the coast of Guangdong. Strong winds are affecting offshore waters and high ground. According to the present track, Pakhar will be closest to Hong Kong tomorrow morning (Sunday), skirting within about 150 kilometres southwest of the territory. Unless Pakhar takes a more westerly track or weakens, the Observatory will consider issuing the Gale or Storm Signal No. 8 before 6 a.m. tomorrow.
Typhoon Hato brought winds of 130kmh to Lantau this morning, flooding Tai O, bringing air traffic to a halt and pounding local beaches with huge waves.
The Hong Kong Observatory recorded sustained wind speeds of 130 kmh at Cheung Chau and 90 kmh at Chek Lap Kok.
In flood-prone Tai O on Lantau’s western end, waters began rising very fast at about 10am and reached a depth of three metres in some places, according to Oriental Daily.
Police, fire and Civil Aid Service crews helped evacuate dozens of residents from their homes and move them to shelter.
So far no major injuries or damage have been reported.
At 2:10pm the Observatory hoisted the no. 8 signal, replacing the hurricane signal 10 that had been issued this morning. It was the first time in five years that at signal 10 had been issued.
It also lifted thunderstorm and amber rainstorm warnings, but says gale force winds are still affecting Lantau and southwestern Hong Kong.
It will consider downgrading to signal 3 before dusk.
Air services are also returning to normal. Reportedly only one plane, a KLM flight from Amsterdam, landed at Chek Lap Kok this morning.