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Published: 20:41, March 23, 2023 | Updated: 10:26, March 24, 2023
HKO to introduce new warning as climate warms
By Wang Zhan
Published:20:41, March 23, 2023 Updated:10:26, March 24, 2023 By Wang Zhan

Director of the Hong Kong Observatory Chan Pak-wai introduces the dedicated webpage "HKO 140th Anniversary" and the 140th anniversary book "Stories under passing storms" that will be published later this year duing a press conference on March 23, 2023. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVERNMENT)

HONG KONG - As the climate continues to warm, 2023 is shaping up to be one of the 10 hottest years on record, and the Hong Kong Observatory is introducing a new warning level for the changing climes: Extremely Hot.

Chan Pak-wai, director of the HKO, said in a press briefing on Thursday that January and February were already “warmer than usual” in Hong Kong due to northeast monsoon over Guangdong being generally weaker than normal.

Chan said 2022 was among the six warmest years since records began in 1884, with the annual mean temperature reaching 23.9 C, 0.4 degree higher than normal

“As the climate continues to warm, the annual mean temperature in Hong Kong is expected to be above normal, with a high chance of reaching the warmest top 10 on record,” Chan said.

The HKO will issue the new “Extremely Hot” warning when temperatures in the city hit 35 degrees Celsius or higher, according to local media reports.

ALSO READ: HKO: 2022 among sixth warmest on record

Chan noted that the past eight years were the eight warmest years on record globally based on the preliminary assessment of the World Meteorological Organization. Global mean sea level continued to rise in 2022, reaching a new record high. 

Locally, 2022 was among the six warmest years since records began in 1884, with the annual mean temperature reaching 23.9 C, 0.4 degree higher than normal. 

With the monthly mean temperature reaching 30.3 C, July 2022 was the hottest month on record in the city. The autumn mean temperature of 26.4 C for September to November 2022 was also the warmest on record for the same period, Chan said. 

He said there were 52 hot nights (with a daily minimum temperature at 28 C or above) and 52 very hot days (with a daily maximum temperature at 33 C or above) in 2022, both ranking as the second highest on record.

ALSO READ: Hong Kong experiences the 'warmest autumn'

“There were 15 days with daily maximum temperatures at the HKO equal to or higher than 35 C in 2022, the highest on record,” Chan said. 

He said the HKO predicts that the tropical cyclone season may start in June or later, and end in October or earlier. It is expected that there will be about four to seven tropical cyclones coming within 500 kilometers of Hong Kong during the year, which is near normal. 

“Annual rainfall is expected to be normal to below normal. However, Hong Kong would still be affected by heavy rain. Members of the public are reminded to be prepared for the rain and tropical cyclone seasons,” he said.

To tie in with the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA), Chan said the Observatory is working closely with the Environmental Protection Department to set up a GBA air quality laboratory and meteorology monitoring supersite in Hong Kong, which was announced in the Chief Executive’s 2022 Policy Address. 

READ MORE: HKO: Hong Kong's September dry and exceptionally hot

The supersite is expected to start operation in 2027, and will also be the site of the "Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area Meteorological Monitoring and Warning Center (Hong Kong)", providing a platform for regional collaboration and research in meteorological science.

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