Sunday, March 30, 2014

Hail in Hong Kong

Giant hailstones batter Hong Kong as the Observatory hoists Black Rainstorm warning

Violent hail storms struck Hong Kong late on Sunday shattering windows at a Kowloon Tong shopping mall as the Observatory raised the first black rainstorm warning of the year

Giant hailstones pounded parts of Hong Kong tonight as thunderstorms echoed around the city and the Black Rainstorm warning was issued for just the second time in two years.
Hailstones the size of golfballs were reported in Tsuen Wan as festivities to mark the end of the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens were washed out.
Thunderstorms were accompanied by near constant flashes of lightning as the Observatory stated that more than 70 millimetres of rain had fallen in some parts in less than an hour.
Rain pours through shattered windows at the Festival Walk shopping mall in Kowloon Tong during the storm. Photo: SCMP Pictures
The Observatory calculated that lightning had struck a total of 2,041 times in just one hour from 9pm, including 482 hits on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
Windows at the Festival Walk shopping mall in Kowloon Tong were smashed by the hail, causing widespread flooding inside the mall.
A stack of more than 20 cargo containers collapsed at the container terminal in Kwai Chung. 
Flooding was reported in areas including Cheung Chau, Tuen Mun, Mong Kok and Sheung Shui, while a landslide was reported in Sai Kung.
MTR stations at Kowloon Tong and Wong Tai Sin also reported flooding.
A stack of more than 20 cargo containers collapsed at the container terminal in Kwai Chung.
Flights were disrupted, with 65 departures delayed and nine inbound flights diverted to other airports in China and Macau.
"Heavy rain is affecting the northern part of the New Territories, especially in Yuen Long, Pat Heung and Kam Tim areas. More than 70 millimetres have been recorded in the past one hour," the Observatory said.
"Hail was reported at Wong Tai Sin at around 8.30pm," the Observatory added, saying that gusts reaching 100kmh had been reported.
The last Black Rainstorm warning was issued in May 2013.
A lorry is crushed beneath containers at Kwai Chung.The bad weather came a day after the first big storms of the year soaked crowds at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens.
Black clouds darkened the stadium before lunchtime Saturday, forcing organisers to switch on floodlights and leading to sodden conditions.
The Observatory said earlier this month that up to seven typhoons were expected to hit the city this year.
It added that as climate change progresses, Hong Kong would see more extreme weather in the future.

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Hailstone havoc

Qi Luo and Eddie LukMonday, March 31, 2014

Hailstones the size of golf balls battered several areas of Hong Kong last night causing extensive damage and forcing the Hong Kong Observatory to hoist the first black storm warning of the year.

Though this was lowered after two hours, the damage was heavy with torrents of rain cascading through shattered window panes at the glitzy Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong.
Elsewhere, more than 20 containers collapsed at Kwai Chung terminal, scores of trees were uprooted and there was extensive flooding in several areas, especially the northwest New Territories where farmers said crops were ruined.

The amber rainstorm warning was raised at 7.45pm before intensifying to red at 8.15pm. Shortly after 8.30pm the black signal was raised together with a warning that rainfall in excess of 100mm an hour was expected in several areas.

By 8pm, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun and Wong Tai Sin all reported heavy rain and flooding. Hail hit Wong Tai Sin, Yuen Long, Tsing Yi, Tsuen Wan, Tuen Mun, Kowloon Tong and North District.

At Tsz Wan Shan the hailstorm lasted for more than five minutes. At Sham Tseng, Lok Fu and San Po Kong the hailstones measured about 3cm across.

Flooding was also reported in Wong Tai Sin and Kowloon Tong MTR stations forcing commuters to roll up their trousers or pick up their skirts.

Train service was also temporarily disrupted due to heavy rains affecting services at Kowloon Tong MTR station. Trains ran at 12-minute intervals between Hung Hom and Tai Wai at one poi
nt, and at eight-minute intervals between Tai Wai and Lo Wu.

Curtains of rain poured through the glass ceiling of the seven-story Festival Walk as staff fought to block the water from entering their shops and restaurants.

Workers were later kept busy mopping up with shoppers taking pictures.

More than 130 flights were either diverted or postponed at Hong Kong International Airport. The Education Bureau asked schools and tuition centers not to release students until it was safe.

Though the black signal was lowered at 10.30pm the observatory said the thunderstorm warning would remain in force for several hours. The downpour was blamed on a trough of low pressure that brought thunderstorms, hail and heavy rain to the coastal areas of Guangdong. In addition, a fresh to strong easterly airstream is affecting the coast of southeastern China.

The observatory said the skies will remain cloudy today with rain which will be heavy at times with squally thunderstorms. Temperatures will range between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius with the weather remaining unsettled for a few days.

Feng shui consultant Mak Ling-ling said hail in large areas generally means a warning of an upcoming bad economic or unstable political environment.

"Hong Kong has seen hail many times in history. But hailstorms in large areas, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong are rare," she said. "It could be a case of people's complaints not being heard."

Hong Kong Standard