Temperatures soared to record highs in Hong Kong as the city suffered from anticyclonic conditions that have affected China’s Guangdong province for the past two weeks.
Hong Kong recorded a temperature of 35.3 degrees Celsius, or 95.54 Fahrenheit, at noon on Tuesday, the highest recorded temperature so far this year, and the second hottest day in May since 1884. On the same day, suburban Tai Po in Hong Kong’s New Territories saw temperatures reach 38.1 degrees.
For 13 consecutive days, the Hong Kong Observatory issued a Very Hot Weather Warning, predicting temperatures in excess of 33 degrees Celsius. Such conditions are exceedingly rare in Hong Kong in May, which is generally balmy but seldom stiflingly hot.
An Observatory meteorologist noted that, when relative humidity and wind speed factors are taken into account, the resultant “apparent temperature” could exceed 40 degrees in urban areas.
Hong Kong has also seen an exceptionally dry May, with total monthly rainfall so far at 57.5 millimetres, or 80% below the average for the month.
The searing heat has seen park pools and small service reservoirs running dry. Water reserves at High Island, the city’s largest reservoir, have plunged to 177 million cubic meters, or only 60% of capacity.
Local papers have expressed alarm at the prospect of water rationing, recalling commonplace scenes of long queues at public standpipes in the 1960s.
The government counters such fears with assurances that present day Hong Kong can depend upon a stable supply of water from Guangdong’s Dongjiang River.
Luckily, tropical cyclones in the South China Sea and off the Philippines are expected to edge closer to coastal Guangdong over the coming weekend.
The combined effect of the cyclones and a ridge of low pressure will ultimately bring cool winds and scattered squally showers.
Hong Kong may then have to concern itself with the first typhoon of the year, according to the UK-based European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.