Since it’s winter in Hong Kong, it’s only appropriate that we trawl through the history books for a look at just how icy things can get here. The answer is … not very. Sure, the start of 2021 has felt very chilly indeed, thanks to the cold front that kicked in on 30 December. But the fact of the matter is that our climate is sub-tropical, and not inclined towards freezing conditions. The official temperature in Hong Kong has never dipped below zero – at least, not since recording began in the 19th century. In fact, the record low temp at the Hong Kong Observatory is exactly 0.0. That was back in 1893.
Having said that, the Hong Kong Observatory is located on flat ground on Nathan Road in TST. HK’s higher areas, especially in the New Territories, are more prone to get into minus figures – as the following anecdote shows!
A flashback to Sunday, 24 January 2016
Five years ago, we shivered through our coldest day since 1957, as a “polar vortex” swept through Hong Kong. In the city, it got down to 3.1 degrees Celsius – low enough to close kindergartens and primary schools the following Monday. (For comparison’s sake, the minimum temperature on 30 December 2020 was 8.1 degrees.)
But that was nothing compared to Hong Kong’s hills. On Tai Mo Shan, the mercury plunged to minus 6 degrees! And, in a case of particularly bad timing, there just happened to be a long trail run taking place on that very day …
“Carnage” is how race participants labelled the Vibram Hong Kong 100 trail run of 2016. Only half the field finished. One competitor described conditions as the worst he’d faced in 15 years of running. And getting people off the mountain and away from the dangers of hypothermia was tricky because roads were blocked by “frost chasers” – regular Hongkongers hoping to hunt down some rare ice and snow.
Here’s hoping this winter in Hong Kong doesn’t get like that!
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This article first appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.