The Hong Kong Observatory has said that multiple weather records were broken last year, including the hottest summer and winter.

In 2018, there were 36 very hot days, when temperatures exceeded 33 degrees Celsius. It represents the third highest number since records began 135 years ago in 1884.

Last year was also when the Observatory issued its hot weather warning at the earliest point in the year. The Observatory only issued cold weather warnings on three days between last December and this February – a record low since 1999.

Shun Chi-ming. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Observatory Director Shun Chi-ming said he believed temperatures in the New Territories will continue to rise, with summer readings potentially reaching 40 degrees.

“The time when Hong Kong has no winter is just around the corner,” he said.

The Observatory predicts that four to seven tropical cyclones will enter within 500 kilometres of Hong Kong this year, since El Niño will be in effect this year, as well as other climate factors.

“This is a normal number,” he said. “Because of the El Niño effect, the typhoon season may only start in – or after – June.”

El Niño refers to the periodic warming of water in the Pacific Ocean every few years.

Hong Kong Observatory press briefing. Photo: inmediahk.net.

Hong Kong issued typhoon signal number ten, the highest level, in both 2017 and 2018. Shun said it is possible that another number signal ten could be issued this year, as the signal was issued for three consecutive years between 1960 and 1962.

“But I hope history will not repeat itself,” Shun said.

Shun said the average temperature this year will be higher than usual: “It is very likely it will be in the top ten, or even top five on record.”

He added that annual rainfall was expected to be high, between 2,300 and 2,900 millimetres.

Photo: PH Yang.

Last Friday, a thousand school children staged a school strike urging action on climate change. The government did not respond to the protest, though a position statement penned by the organisers was submitted to the legislative council president Andrew Leung.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.