Sunday, 24 January 2016

brrr!

I’ve spent 25 of the last 42 winters in Hong Kong, and I’ve never known it to have been as cold as it’s been this weekend. And it’s set to become even colder tonight! The Hong Kong Observatory has quite an array of weather warnings in its repertoire—heavy rain; strong (northeast) monsoon; cold weather (activated if the temperature is predicted to drop below 12 degrees Celsius); fire danger; and eight separate typhoon alerts—but I’d never been aware that it also issues frost warnings. There is one in force at the moment.

The urban heat island effect is likely to ensure that the temperature never drops this low in town, where the Observatory is located, but frost may indeed affect the northern New Territories, where I live. In fact, I’ve just returned from shopping for essential supplies (i.e. beer) on the edge of Fanling, and at 8am the electronic time/temperature display in a public five-a-side football pitch there was reading 1 degree (see photo below; click to enlarge). Even the Observatory was recording a temperature below 4 degrees at the same time, and on only a handful of occasions during the past 40-odd years has it registered even as low as 5 degrees.


I remember thinking yesterday, as I walked with Paula to Fanling station, that the down jackets were out in force. This item of clothing has become popular in recent years, and you rarely see anyone wearing a traditional padded silk jacket, or minap, nowadays. I have one, but it’s in my house in the UK, where it serves no useful purpose. It’s easy to dismiss silk as a luxury fabric that is worn only by women who can afford it, but it is much warmer than wool, and much more comfortable when worn next to the skin. And a minap is warmer than the kind of down jacket currently being sold in Hong Kong, of which I have two. On the other hand, they are ideal for wearing around the house when the temperature drops sufficiently far that a cold weather warning from the Observatory is triggered.

However, I do have a duvet jacket that I bought as long ago as 1969 for mountaineering purposes, which I had no hesitation in wearing today during my excursion to the shops (see photo above). It was designed for polar conditions, so you might comment that I was overdressed, but then I’ve never placed fear of being laughed at above being warm.

At least the wind has dropped. It was gusting up to gale force yesterday, so even if I had suitable clothing for cycling in such low temperatures, the force of the wind would have been more than enough to deter any thoughts of doing so.

Here endeth my rant about the bloody cold weather in Hong Kong, although I might just mention that I’ve checked the weather in my home town in the UK, and the temperature there is currently 10 degrees. Ah luxury!

Incidentally, if you want to find out whether we actually do freeze overnight, I intend to update this post tomorrow. It won’t make any difference in practice though. It will still be bloody cold.

update: 25/1/2016
The temperature may have dropped to zero during the night—there is now no way to tell— but by the time I walked past the same display board at 7.45am this morning, it was showing 1 degree again:


It was dry though, and the sun was out for only the third time this month. For the past two nights, I’ve done something that I don’t recall ever having done before: wear socks and a woolly hat in bed. At least I was snug and warm, and although it will be warming up gradually over the next few days, I expect to do so again tonight.

By the way, I learned today, courtesy of the BBC News website, that you have to go back 59 years to find temperatures colder than it has been over the past couple of days, thus confirming the subjective opinion with which I started this post.

6 comments:

  1. It is indeed bloody cold. All the windows are shut and a fan heater is blowing. I am wearing a woollen hat and the dog a woollen jumper. We are still cold

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    1. A shared experience doesn’t make it any easier to bear Peter. Just think, the air that’s causing us all this grief now was being breathed by yaks on the Siberian steppes just a few days ago.

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  2. It is historically cold in Hong Kong, but it is relatively mild to people living in the State where they have to contend with stormy snow in the past few days. We are still 'lucky' to see frost in the northern territories or up in the mountains.

    Paula

    Paula

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    1. You’re right Paula. Everything is relative, but at least in the US they expect this kind of thing.

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  3. I actually find the cold refreshing. With the exception to my hands being exposed and feeling the brunt of some of the gusts. I'm pretty wrapped up and have been enjoying a hot cup of Yorkshire tea in the evening before putting my head down for the evening.

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    1. I do know what you mean Oliver. It’s actually easier to protect oneself against the cold by following your advice than it is to protect oneself from excessive heat. My frustration comes from not being able to get out on my bike.

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