Hong Kong sweltered through its hottest summer this year since records began in 1884, according to data issued this week. Air pollution has also soared.

The Hong Kong Observatory said the average daily maximum temperature during June to August was 32.6 degrees Celsius and the average minimum was 27.7 degrees Celsius.

There were 16 days classified as “very hot” (over 33 degrees) in August, the highest number on record. So far this year, as of August 31, the number of “very hot days” was 43, already 32.8 days above the annual normal average and breaking the previous record of 38 in 2016.

File photo: Citizen News.

The number of “very hot” nights, warmer than 28 degrees Celsius, was 46 in the same period, matching the existing record of last year.

The Observatory said in a statement that the rise in temperature was due to “warmer than normal sea surface temperature over the northern part of the South China Sea.”

Potentially ‘serious’ health risks

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Department has reported higher than average pollution levels since the beginning of this month and warned that the level may reach “serious” — the highest level. Under this category, children and elderly people are advised to avoid going outdoors, while others are urged to keep outdoor exposure to a minimum.

On Thursday, the Air Quality Health Index was raised to “Very High,” the second-most severe category, in most areas of the city. The areas of high pollution levels included Central on Hong Kong Island and Tuen Mun in the New Territories. However the risk level for the city dropped on Friday, ranging from low to moderate.

According to the Centre for Health Protection, Hong Kong’s air pollution stems mainly from vehicle, industry and power plant emissions both within the city and in the wider Pearl River Delta region.

Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.