Dissecting Hong Kong: The weather

Clear Water SkyNow I’m almost back from the dead. After three weeks of constant work, basically 12 hours a day and now with only one deadline left things are clearing up. So is the Hong Kong weather – yesterday a typhoon passed (also noted here by my friend Rich), but today the sky is as clear and blue as never before – a great photo opportunity. And I realized, I haven’t written much about Hong Kong lately. So I might just do a little dissecting of the weather, now when I consider myself being almost free of more important duties.

Before coming to Hong Kong, I did a thorough checkup of the expected weather. The climate tables told med that it would be hot and very humid almost all the time. For some reason, I got the idea that it would rain every second day or so – small but heavy showers. Unfortunately, I mixed up HK weather with tropical weather, like that of Singapore.

Now I am wiser, and have adapted to Hong Kong weather pretty well. I have not yet been here a full four seasons, but from August to May I span most of it. When arriving at Hong Kong in the end of August last year, everything was nice and cool. Thanks to heavy air conditioning at the airport. When me and Claes first stepped out in the real thing, we were struck by a wave of heat and humidity. We were pretty amazed, it felt literally like going into a sauna or a tropical room in a zoo. Walking 10 meters is enough to get sweaty. But the weeks following our arrival, with the same weather, I quickly got used to it. Around 30 degree Celcius and very humid is quite acceptable if not wearing too much clothes.

After August and September came the best time of Hong Kong – the autumn. From September to December you have around 25 degree Celcius, clear blue sky, some soothing winds and generally just good weather. It’s like a perfect Swedish summer (not that we have too many of those) for a full four months. I counted around five days with rain in all that time. So much for “rain every second day”. But then came the shock, in the end of december. Cold. Freezingly cold. After having adapted to an eternal life in t-shirt, the temperature dropped to less than 15 degrees, even 10. This is the Siberian air coming down. Windy, sometimes rainy.

Let me just break something to you. Hong Kong winters are sometimes colder than Swedish. I am not talking about outdoor temperature (while I was suffering in 13 degrees Celcius, my fellow Swedes back home had a nice few weeks with up to -20 degree Celcius. Yes, that’s a minus.). I’m talking about indoor temperature – Hong Kong homes has single layered windows, no isolation, no heaters. That means, outdoor temperature and indoor temperature tends to be the same… I found myself sleeping in full clothes the worst nights. We all went and bought heaters – something I never expected. However, the worst part of the winter was going to Shanghai in the end of February. It was a freezing 5 to 10 degrees outside, and I really suffered. And then I even used the winter jacket I brought from Sweden. At that moment, I realized adapting to HK weather means that Swedish weather suddenly seems like torture. Will I ever survive a Swedish winter?

I was told before going here that HK spring wasn’t a very nice time (in Sweden, it is always spoken of fondly, except in April). And yes, spring here isn’t a great time. There is a lot of rain – not showers, but constant, heavy rain. It gets very, very humid. And still, windy and not very warm – t-shirt was not an option. Let me once more make a sidetrack: humidity. Hong Kong is very humid. What is very humid, you might ask? Very humid is when the paper in your books start crumbling, even though the window is closed. Humid is when all windows get foggy and covered with water droplets (air conditioner inside, steaming humidity outside). Humidity is when you walk outdoor with glasses on, they actually fog up and you can’t see! I am completely serious with these observation – the outdoor life of Hong Kong is like being in a sauna at some times.

And finally, the typhoons. They occur from May to September – so far I have missed the typhoon prime time, but I managed to experience one level 3 warning yesterday, and one in September (if I remember correctly). The typhoons are just powerful tropical storms (they are not tornadoes). They bring very heavy winds (last one had 180 km/h winds) and lots of rain. When a few hundred kilometers away, we get a T1 signal, then T3. Higher signals are when the typhoon is actually hitting Hong Kong, something I haven’t experienced yet. When this happens, people get killed, landslides occur, trees break and containers fly around. If really lucky, one might see the eye of the typhoon, the centre, where the sky supposedly is clear. This would be a great photo opportunity, and even though I don’t support people getting killed by nature, I would really want to see a typhoon right on. Hong Kong is in the end, quite prepared for heavy typhoons.

And now? It’s almost summer. Going around 30 degrees, getting more humid. The same weather will stay until September. Most of that time, I will be in Sweden though. I sure hope Sweden can bring me a decent summer, or is that too much to ask? 😉

3 thoughts on “Dissecting Hong Kong: The weather”

  1. Nu Ă€r Ă€ntligen min termin slut, och jag har tid att lĂ€sa bloggar igen! Det var vĂ€ldigt stressigt pĂ„ slutet (vilket som vanligt Ă€r mitt eget fel) men igĂ„r redovisade jag det sista. Vilket innebĂ€r att jag har sommarlov!!! =D Har inte riktigt förstĂ„tt det sjĂ€lv Ă€n…
    För att min kommentar ska ha nĂ„got med inlĂ€gget att göra: HĂ€r Ă€r just nu 15,7 grader, moln men med blĂ„ himmel emellan och stundtals sol. Det syns att vĂ„ren faktiskt har övergĂ„tt till försommar – det ljusgröna har över sista veckan mörknat till djupgrönt. TrĂ€dgĂ„rden Ă€r full av fĂ€rgglada blommor. Perfekt tid att vara ledig helt enkelt! =)

  2. I just came across your blog and had to read to find why you had a picture of UST at the top. I taught there in the mid-90s. It’s a dramatic campus, although at times we got tired of grey tile everywhere, inside and out, even in our bathrooms.

    And I wanted to second what you said about the winter. I came from the northern US, where there’s lots of snow and the temperature is frequently below freezing, yet HK winters were rough at first. As you said, it’s always cold inside, since the homes are designed to shed heat. Those concrete floors and walls suck every last bit of warmth away, which is great in the summer but not so nice in the winter.

  3. Thanks for your comment! I’m very fond of the UST campus and HK in general, and the weather is better than Swedish weather nevertheless. :)

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