A warm, wet and stormy 2016

Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      According to the World Meteorological Organization's preliminary assessment, 2016 is very likely to be the world's warmest year on record. With unusually high air and sea surface temperatures, the sea ice extent over the Arctic based on satellite observations was well below average throughout the year with seven months (up to November 2016) hitting a record low.
     Various extreme weather events wreaked havoc in many parts of the world in 2016, including heat waves in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Middle East; damaging wildfires in Canada and Tasmania; cold spells in southern China and the eastern United States; drought in southern Africa, northern South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Vietnam, parts of India, Indonesia, the Philippines, various islands of the tropical western Pacific, Ethiopia and parts of eastern Australia; extreme rainfall and flooding in the Yangtze and Beijing regions of China, Sri Lanka, India, western Europe, the Niger river basin and Australia; and severe damage and heavy casualties caused by tropical cyclones in Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas, China, the Korean Peninsula and the east coast of the United States. 
     Over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific, the strongest and longest El Niño event since 1950 weakened steadily during the first few months of 2016, with sea surface temperatures returning to ENSO-neutral state (Note 1) in May and dropping to slightly below normal towards the end of the year.
     The weather in Hong Kong was warmer than usual in 2016 with an annual mean temperature of 23.6 degrees, 0.3 degrees above the 1981-2010 normal (Note 2) (or 0.6 degrees above the 1961-90 normal) and among the seventh warmest years since records began in 1884. In particular, the mean temperatures for summer (June to August) and autumn (September to November) ranked the third highest and the fifth highest respectively on record. 
     For extreme temperatures, there were 38 Very Hot Days (Note 3) and 36 Hot Nights (Note 4) in Hong Kong in 2016, ranking the highest and the second highest on record respectively. The number of Cold Days (Note 5) in the year was 21 days, four days more than the 1981-2010 normal.

The highest temperature recorded at the Hong Kong Observatory in the year was 35.6 degrees on July 9, while the lowest temperature of 3.1 degrees was recorded on January 24.

     The year 2016 brought more rain than normal in Hong Kong. The annual total rainfall was 3 026.8 millimetres, an increase of 26 per cent compared to the 1981-2010 normal of 2 398.5 millimetres (or about 37 per cent above the 1961-90 normal) and the ninth highest on record, with a record-breaking rainfall of 1 078.8 millimetres recorded in Autumn. On October 19, torrential rain induced by the combined effect of Severe Typhoon Sarika and the northeast monsoon necessitated the issuance of the first ever Black Rainstorm Warning Signal in October since the Rainstorm Warning System commenced operation in 1992. The number of days with thunderstorms reported in Hong Kong was 52 days in 2016, about 13 days more than the 1981-2010 normal.  

     A total of 28 tropical cyclones occurred over the western North Pacific and the South China Sea in 2016, less than the long-term (1961-2010) average of around 30. There were 13 tropical cyclones reaching typhoon intensity (Note 6) or above during the year, less than the long-term average of about 15, and seven of them reached super typhoon intensity (maximum 10-minute wind speed of 185 kilometres per hour or above near the centre). In Hong Kong, nine tropical cyclones necessitated the issuance of tropical cyclone warning signals, higher than the long-term average of about six in a year. The No. 8 Gale or Storm Signal was issued during the passage of Typhoon Nida in August and Super Typhoon Haima in October.
     Detailed description of the weather for individual months is available on the Monthly Weather Summary webpage: http://www.hko.gov.hk/wxinfo/pastwx/mws.htm" target="_blank">www.hko.gov.hk/wxinfo/pastwx/mws.htm.

     A detailed version of the Year's Weather for 2016 with some significant weather events in Hong Kong is available at: http://www.hko.gov.hk/wxinfo/pastwx/ywx.htm" target="_blank">www.hko.gov.hk/wxinfo/pastwx/ywx.htm.
Note 1: ENSO-neutral state refers to the situation with neither El Niño nor La Niña in place.
Note 2: Climatological normals for the reference periods of 1961-90, 1971-2000 and 1981-2010 are available at: http://www.weather.gov.hk/cis/normal_e.htm" target="_blank">www.weather.gov.hk/cis/normal_e.htm.

Climatological normals of 1981-2010 are referenced in the text unless otherwise stated.
Note 3: "Very Hot Day" refers to the condition with the daily maximum temperature equal to or higher than 33.0 degrees.
Note 4: "Hot Night" refers to the condition with the daily minimum temperature equal to or higher than 28.0 degrees.
Note 5: "Cold Day" refers to the condition with the daily minimum temperature equal to or lower than 12.0 degrees.
Note 6: Information on the classification of Tropical Cyclones is available at: http://www.hko.gov.hk/informtc/class.htm" target="_blank">www.hko.gov.hk/informtc/class.htm.

Published on: 2017-01-06

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