Reply To: Stormy weather – Prapiroon – due for 3-5 August


South China Morning Post is among media with questions re whether HK Observatory was correct to only issue Number 3 signal yesterday, when west of Hong Kong experiencing storm and even hurricane force winds, and there were gales blowing in the harbour. Does seem a grave error, apparently making a mockery of the signals. (It may not have been crucial to close down the city, but there were dangerous winds. Perhaps the outmoded signalling system is at least partly to blame; also HK Observatory being rather stick in the mud, or even erring on side of caution with regard to effect on business.

In email re this, Roger Kendrick suggests "Surely with the level of technology now available it is easier to be more specific with regard to warnings." Much discussion of this on Weather Underground forum; one post making a point I’d noticed: bulletin(s) from HKO mentioned winds at, say, Waglan – but not Cheung Chau, where winds far more powerful; was this partly to cloud the issue, make it seem more reasonable to not issue Number 8?

I earlier (2004) had email discussion with KY Yeung of HK Observatory, regarding my impression that Number 8 signal is not great: are times when it is issued and looks like could be far worse than gales to come, other times when gales are all that appear likely: in first case, closing down Hong Kong seems wise, while shutting much of the city for gales not so wise. I’d suggested having two different signals for these situations (tho Number 9 – increasing gale or storm signal – could play stronger role here). Yesterday was perhaps one of the more borderline cases: the eye was virtually certainly missing Hong Kong, by fair distance; yet there were gales and even stronger winds. No need, then, to close all Hong Kong, yet should have warned of dangers, and regional variations. People living on Cheung Chau, say, maybe should not have had to take ferries to jobs in the city. Hong Kong Number 8 tropical cyclone warning needs revamping?