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Friday, April 12, 2024

Hong Kong grapples with worst flooding in 140 Years

Hong Kong experienced the highest hourly rainfall in its recorded history, dating back 140 years, on Thursday and midnight on Friday

Hong Kong, a bustling metropolis known for its skyscrapers and vibrant city life, is currently facing a severe weather crisis. In a dramatic turn of events, the city experienced the highest hourly rainfall in its recorded history, dating back 140 years. This deluge has resulted in widespread flooding, disrupting daily life, and prompting authorities to take unprecedented measures.

Unprecedented Rainfall Records

The Hong Kong Observatory reported an astounding 158.1 millimeters (6.2 inches) of rainfall between 11 p.m. HKT on Thursday and midnight on Friday, marking a historic moment in the city’s meteorological records. This exceptionally heavy rainfall has been attributed to a trough of low pressure linked to the remnants of Typhoon Haikui, which has been causing havoc along the coast of Guangdong since Thursday.

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Black Rainstorm Warning

The gravity of the situation prompted the Hong Kong weather bureau to issue the highest “black” rainstorm warning, signaling the severity of the rainfall and its potential consequences. More than 200 mm of rain inundated Hong Kong’s main island, Kowloon, and the northeastern part of the New Territories from Thursday night onwards, further exacerbating the crisis.

Impact on Daily Life

As the torrential rain continued unabated, Hong Kong’s streets, shopping malls, and metro stations were submerged, resembling scenes from a disaster movie. The city’s cross-harbor tunnel, a crucial artery connecting Hong Kong Island to Kowloon, was also inundated, causing massive traffic disruptions. Social media was flooded with videos and images showcasing streets transformed into raging rivers and water cascading down escalators into swamped subway stations.

Economic Consequences

The vibrant financial hub was not immune to the effects of this unprecedented rainfall. The Hong Kong Stock Exchange announced that it would remain closed on Friday morning if the black rainstorm warning persisted at 9 a.m. This decision reflects the gravity of the situation and the need to prioritize safety over financial activities.

Government Response

Hong Kong’s city leader, John Lee, expressed deep concern about the severe flooding across the territory and directed all government departments to mobilize “all-out efforts” to address the crisis. The government also took the extraordinary step of suspending all schools on Friday due to the “extreme conditions” brought about by extensive flooding and severe traffic disruptions.

Disrupted Public Transportation

Hong Kong’s public transportation system, known for its efficiency, faced significant disruptions. The MTR Corporation, responsible for operating the city’s rail network, had to shut down at least one rail line, while others operated on delayed schedules. These disruptions further complicated the daily lives of residents and commuters.

Employers and Workers Affected

The government appealed to employers to implement work arrangements typically used during a signal 8 typhoon warning. Such arrangements involve shutting down offices and stores to ensure the safety of workers. The impact on businesses and workers’ routines was significant, as the city grappled with the effects of the deluge.

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Hong Kong’s battle with the worst flooding in 140 years serves as a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of extreme weather events. The city, known for its resilience and efficiency, is facing unprecedented challenges as it copes with the aftermath of this torrential rain. While the immediate focus is on safety and recovery, this incident also highlights the need for continued preparedness and resilience in the face of climate-related disasters. As Hong Kong comes together to address this crisis, it underscores the strength and determination of its people in the face of adversity.