A cold snap gripped Hong Kong on Sunday, with residents shivering as temperatures plunged to the lowest point in nearly 60 years and frost dusted the mountaintops of a city accustomed to a subtropical climate.
Weather officials issued a frost warning saying an “intense cold surge” was in place, coupled with chilling monsoon winds.
Morning temperatures dropped to 3.3 Celsius (38 Fahrenheit) in urban areas of the southern Chinese city, where most buildings lack central heating, and below freezing on the hills.
It is the coldest weather in 59 years, senior scientific officer Wong Wai-kin told AFP.
“It is the coldest day since 1957. The daily minimum dropped to 3.3 degrees Celsius, the previous record was 2.4 degrees in February of 1957,” he told AFP.
While the cold snap is by no means on the scale of the weather now affecting the US and swathes of mainland China, such temperatures are a novelty for many residents.
“It is very cold and windy over Hong Kong. People are advised to put on warm clothes and to avoid prolonged exposure to wintry winds,” read a note published on a city government website.
As the mercury dropped, curious residents flocked to higher ground in search of frost, according to local broadcaster Cable TV.
“It’s very cold, my feet feel numb,” a young visitor to Tai Mo Shan, the highest mountain in Hong Kong, told the broadcaster.
Screenshots of flakes also swamped social media but weather forecasters said the precipitation was “rain with small ice pellets” rather than snow.
About 20 participants of a cross country race were sent to hospital after experiencing symptoms associated with hypothermia, according to local media.
24 January 2016 has broken into the top ten lowest recorded temperatures in Hong Kong’s history (via 香港地下天文台) pic.twitter.com/EqwLPYYVMH
— Ryan Ho Kilpatrick 何松濤 (@rhokilpatrick) January 24, 2016
Conditions are not expected to warm up until the middle of the week, said weather forecasters.
According to the Hong Kong Observatory, the coldest weather occurred in January 1893, when temperatures plunged to 0 C.